The ADAPT lab focuses on the interplay between physical activity and mental health outcomes across the lifespan in both clinical and community-based populations living with chronic health conditions. Guided by the RE-AIM framework (Glasgow, Boles, & Vogt, 1999), the research undertaken in our lab focuses on the development and testing of theory-based physical activity interventions that: (1) reach persons with chronic health conditions, and demonstrate effectiveness for promoting mental health and physical activity behaviour, and 2) can be adopted and implemented into practice for promoting long-term behaviour change.

Examples of some of the research foci explored in our lab include:

  • Measuring the physical activity and sedentary behaviours of children and youth with disabilities;
  • Examining modifiable, theory-based factors affecting physical activity behaviour change in adults with severe mental illness;
  • Determining the types of theory-based physical activity interventions that are most effective for eliciting changes in targeted health outcomes for adults with spinal cord injury;
  • Exploring the feasibility of online delivery modalities for promoting physical activity behaviour in youth and adults with physical disabilities;
  • Establishing collaborative researcher-healthcare provider relationships for shaping the process of integrating feasible, physical activity interventions into community-based settings (e.g., fitness and recreation centres);  and
  • Examining the long-term effectiveness of theory-based physical activity interventions on targeted health outcomes in populations with chronic health conditions.

Areas of Focus in the ADAPT Lab:
•    Exercise and Health Psychology
•    Disability and Rehabilitation
•    Knowledge Translation
•    Mixed Methods

Meet the ADAPT Team


Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos

Dr. Arbour-Nicitopoulos is an Assistant Professor in Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto and an Adjunct Scientist at Bloorview Research Institute. She has been Principal or co-Investigator on operating grants exceeding $6 million from SSHRC, CIHR, and CFI, as well as other National (Rick Hansen Institute) and Provincial (Cancer Care Ontario, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation) granting agencies. Dr. Arbour-Nicitopoulos has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers in some of the highest impact journals in the area of behaviour change and rehabilitation, 3 book chapters, and over 100 abstracts, presentations, and keynotes. 

An integral aspect of Arbour-Nicitopoulos’ research is Knowledge Translation. She was the Executive Director of a nation-wide telephone-based PA counseling service (Get In Motion) from 2008 to 2016 that supported over 130 Canadian adults with physical disabilities to lead more physically active lifestyles. She has also provided service to numerous community-based health promotion initiatives such as the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Minding Our Bodies Evaluation and Advisory Committees, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Get Active Toronto Research Committee Board. Currently, she is the Director, Sport and Exercise Psychology within the Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology (SCAPPS).  

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Doctoral Students

Krystn Orr

Krystn received her BSc Kin(Hon) from McMaster University in 2014 and her MSc from the University of Toronto in 2016. During her degrees, Krystn volunteered with adults with physical disabilities (e.g., spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis) and worked as a research assistant with SCI Action Canada ( and currently the Canadian Disability Participation Project ( Krystn is working under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos with a focus on physical activity promotion and strategies among youth and emerging adults with disabilities. Krystn is also the Research Coordinator for the SMILE program, a free physical activity program for children and youth with disabilities aimed at improving their functional movement skills. Finally, as a member of the Canadian Obesity Network chapter at the University of Toronto, Krystn is acting as the Co-Chair (2016-2017).



Master's Students

Alexandra Boross-Harmer

Alex received her Bachelor of Kinesiology (honours) from the University of Toronto in 2015 and is currently in the second year of her Master of Science, working under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos. Alex’s areas of interest lie in the field of exercise psychology and adapted physical activity, specifically how individuals of a variety of physical and cognitive abilities experience physical activity and their motivations for participation. Her thesis explores the physical culture of families of young adults with lower-functioning Autism. In addition to her Master’s work, Alex is the research coordinator for the community-based physical activity program Igniting Fitness Possibilities (IFP), a program aimed to foster friendships, improve attitudes towards being active, and increase long-term physical activity participation among youth with and without disabilities. To discuss her research and personal interests further, please feel free to contact Alex at 

Selected Publications: 

Boross-Harmer A, Grassmann V, Arbour-Nicitopoulos KP, Faulkner G. (2016) Investigating the association between physical activity and the built environment among individuals with schizophrenia. Journal of Exercise, Movement and Sport, 48(1).

Boross-Harmer A, Wright V, Arbour-Nicitopoulos KP. (2015). Examining best practices for implementing inclusive physical activity programs for youth with and without disabilities: Parent and staff perspectives. Journal of Exercise, Movement, and Sport, 47(1).

Ritu Sharma

Ritu received her Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto in 2015, specializing in Health & Disease and Psychology. She is currently in her second year of her Master of Science, working under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos. Ritu's research interests include understanding psychosocial correlates of physical activity, and the impact of physical activity interventions on youth with disabilities. Her thesis focuses on the development, delivery, and evaluation of an online, theory-based physical activity intervention targeted towards youth with physical disabilities. In addition to her thesis, Ritu is coordinating the National Physical Activity Monitoring (NPAM) Study, assessing trends of physical activity and sedentary behaviour among Canadian youth with physical disabilities and/or visual impairments. To discuss her research and personal interests further, please feel free to contact Ritu at  

Selected Publications: 

Sharma, R., McEachern, B.M., Arbour-Nicitopoulos, K.P. & Tomasone, J.R. (2016). Assessing the Impact of Moving to Inclusion (MTI) Online. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 38, 254. 

Sharma, R., Bassett-Gunter, R.L., Leo, J., Latimer-Cheung, A.E., Martin Ginis K.A. & Arbour-Nicitopoulos, K.P. (2016). Examining the relationship between motivation and the physical activity behaviour of Canadian youth with physical disabilities. Journal of Exercise, Movement, and Sport, 48, 223. 

Shannon Weissman

Shannon received her Honours Bachelor of Science with a specialization in Kinesiology from Queen's University in 2017. During her undergraduate degree, she completed an Exercise, Disability, and Aging Mini-Stream as well as a Research Mini-Stream. At Queen's, Shannon volunteered for and supervised Revved Up, an adapted exercise program for adults with physical and/or developmental disabilities. Her undergraduate thesis research used eye-tracking to assess able-bodied adults staring behaviour toward images of people with physical disabilities in active and inactive contexts. Shannon is entering the first year of her Master's of Science under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos.

Selected Publications:

Weissman, S. (2016). Comparison of Bilateral Partial Lesion Models of Cervical Spinal Cord Injury. Oral presentation, Krembil Research Institute.

Weissman, S., & Latimer-Cheung, A.E. (2017). Examining the connection between exposure to people with physical disabilities and staring behaviour among able-bodied adults. Oral presentation, Inquiry @ Queen’s Undergraduate Research Conference.

Weissman, S., & Latimer-Cheung, A.E. (2017). Examining the connection between exposure to people with physical disabilities and staring behaviour among able-bodied adults. Oral Presentation, Eastern Canadian Sports & Exercise Psychology Symposium.



Celina Shirazipour

Celina is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie University. Celina's research interests include physical activity promotion, and quality physical activity participation for individuals with disabilities, particularly military personnel with physical and mental illness and injury. 

Research Gate


Former Trainees of the ADAPT Lab

Viviane Grassman Marques, Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-2016). Areas of interest: severe mental illness, cognitive functioning, inclusion

Krystn Orr, M.Sc. Student, University of Toronto (2014-2016). Thesis title: Youth sport participation and peer support among youth with physical disabilities: A qualitative analysis. 

Zlata Volfson, M.Sc. Student, University of Toronto (2013-2016). Thesis title: A qualitative examination of theory-based factors of physical activity in youth with spina bifida: Application of the Theoretical Domains Framework.

Samantha Jeske, M.Sc. Student, University of Toronto (2013 – 2015). Thesis title: An examination of the receptivity and feasibility of a videoconference delivery of a group-based physical activity support program for adults with spinal cord injury.

Markus Duncan, M.Sc. Student, University of Toronto (2013 – 2014). Thesis title: The acute effects of physical activity on affect in persons with schizophrenia.