Sami Yli-Piipari


Dr. Sami Yli-Piipari is an associate professor in Children’s Physical Activity, Fitness, and School Health Promotion at the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia. He directs Children’s Physical Activity and Fitness Laboratory specializing on children’s physical activity and motivation issues. Dr. Yli-Piipari earned his PhD in 2011 from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland in Sport Pedagogy with concentration on exercise psychology. After working in a junior faculty position at the University of Jyvaskyla, Dr. Yli-Piipari spent two postdoc years at the University of North Carolina - Greensboro, and three years as an assistant professor at the University of Memphis. Dr. Yli-Piipari has published 60+ book chapters and research articles in peer-reviewed journals and he has been able to secure more than $700,000 in external funding. He is a research fellow of the Society for Health and Physical Educators and an editorial board member of the Journal of Teaching, Research, and Media in Kinesiology.

Areas of Expertise

  • serious physical activity games
  • physical education instruction
  • self-determination theory
  • autonomy
  • achievement goal theory
  • structural equation modeling


  • physical activity
  • motivation
  • exercise
  • physical education
  • serious games
  • wellness

Academic Affiliations


  •  PhD in Sport Pedagogy, 2011
    University of Jyvaskyla, Finland


 Ramsey Center, 349
 706-542-4462 (office)
 901-233-1019 (mobile)

Research Summary

Dr. Sami Yli-Piipari is a children and adolescent physical activity specialist with an academic interest in motivational processes impacting sustainable physical activity and exercise behaviors.Specifically, he is examining how educational physical activity experiences, such as school physical education or community programs, and psychological need-supportive instruction facilitate sustainable physical activity. As an outcome of his study, it is possible to design more effective interventions to impact children’s and adolescents' lifelong healthy behaviors. In his health promotion efforts, he applies the latest technological innovations to examine the role of virtual experiences, such as active video games, in motivating, educating, and engaging children and adolescents' in health-enhancing physical activity.

Awards and Accolades

Research Fellow

Society of Physical and Health Educators, 2015

Department Chair's Award for Outstanding Research Contribution

University of Memphis, 2013

Fulbright Graduate Grant Scholarship Award

Fulbright, 2010