School of Nursing and Health Sciences


Zi Yan

Academic Title

Professor, Nutrition and Public Health

Research Interests

  • Physical activity and health behavior promotion
  • Public Health
  • Exercise psychology and body image
  • Sociocultural aspect of physical activity

Research Summary

My research work is very interdisciplinary involving psychology, public health, and exercise science. My recent work focuses on understanding how sociocultural and environmental factors affect exercise and other health behaviors of different population groups, including women, older, and people with disabilities.


  • Ph.D., Exercise Psychology, Oregon State University
  • M.P.H., Health Behavior and Promotion, Oregon State University
  • M.Ed., Kinesiology, Bowling Green State University
  • B.S., Psychology, Beijing Normal University

Areas of Expertise

  • Health Behavior and Promotion
  • Physical Activity Promotion
  • Sociocultural Aspects of Exercise Behavior

Recent Publications

Recent (since 2018) publications

Xu, T., Li, H., Yan, Z., & Zhang, G. (2022). The effect of self-control and bullying behavior among martial arts practicing adolescents: Based on the analyses of multiple mediation effects. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology,3,1-14

Li, Y., Lu, R., Zheng, Z., & Yan, Z*. (2021). Exploring factors associated with diabetic self-management compliance among rural elders in Fujian, China. INQUIRY: The Journal of Healthcare Organization, Provision, and Financing. DOI: 10.1177/00469580211012491

Yan, Z.*, Zhang, G., Xu, T (2021). Is receipt body-related comments associate with exercise motivation: A case study in China. International Journal of Sport and Exercise

Xiao, S., Yan, Z, * Zhao, L. (2021). (Corresponding author). Featured Article: Physical activity, mood disturbance, and conflicts with parents during COVID-19 among Chinese adolescents. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. 59,4,14-20. doi:10.3928/02793695-20201104-04

Yan, Z. *, Zhang, G., Cardinal, B., & Xu, T. (2020). Body-related comments experienced by Chinese young women: A cross-sectional study. Nursing and Health Sciences, 22, 300-308. doi: 10.1111/nhs.12697

Yan, Z. *, Finn, K., & Breton, K. (2020). Does it promote physical activity? College students’ perceptions on Pokémon Go. The Montenegrin Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 9(1), 5-10.

Yan, Z, Li, Y., Zheng, Z., & Lu., R. (2020). Exploring the risk factors for depressive symptoms among Chinese rural olders (Featured article). Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 58(2), 41-47. doi: 10.3928/02793695-20191030-01

Yan, Z. *, & Harrington, A. (2020). Factors that predict weight gain among
first-year college students, Health Education Journal,79(1), 94-103.

Zhang*, G., Chen, X., Xiao, L., Li, Y., Lin B., Yan, Z., Guo, L., & Rost, D. (2019). The relationship between Big Five and self-control in boxers: A mediating model. Frontier Psychology, 10, 1690. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01690

Yan, Z. *, & Cardinal, B. (2019). Association of Asian/Asian-American immigrants’ physical activity behavior and length of residence in the U.S. Journal of Behavioral Health, 8 (2),66-70. doi: 10.5455/jbh.20190301063103

Cannon*, A., Finn, K., & Yan, Z. (2018). Comparison of hip internal and external rotation between intercollegiate distance runners and non-running college students. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 13(6), 956-962.

Finn, K.*, Yan, Z., & McInnis, K. (2018). Promoting physical activity and science learning in an outdoor education program. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 89(1), 35-39.

Honors and Awards

  • Society of Health And Physical Educators, SHAPE America, LeRoy T. Walker Young Professional Award, 2022.
  • Zampell Family Faculty Fellow, Merrimack College, 2021-2022
  • Society of Health And Physical Educators, SHAPE America, Research Fellow, 2017