Request for Information (RFI): Identifying Gaps in Understanding the Mechanisms of Physical Activity-Induced Health Benefits

Notice Number: NOT-RM-14-001

Key Dates
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Response Date: December 31, 2013

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)



Increased physical activity has been linked to numerous health benefits including improved cardiovascular and respiratory health, insulin sensitivity, bone and muscle strength, and cognitive function. In addition to these improvements, physical activity is associated with reductions in coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and depression ( For most health outcomes, benefits increase as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, or longer duration, although the magnitude of these benefits diminishes with advancing age.

For the purposes of this request, physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscle that increases energy expenditure above basal levels.

Although researchers have demonstrated that physical activity contributes to improved health outcomes (for purposes of this request, “improved health” and related phrases include reduced risk of disease), studies tend to focus on a single signaling pathway, tissue, or organ system and have not identified the molecular mechanisms by which physical activity is beneficial. Such compartmentalization limits the scope and impact of most research findings.

Information Requested

The NIH Common Fund is exploring strategies to help the research community develop a more integrative perspective on the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which physical activity improves multiple health outcomes.

The NIH is requesting comments, to include but not limited to addressing the following:

A. The most pressing research questions related to the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which physical activity improves health and reduces the risk of disease.

B. The types of new protocols, techniques, and tools needed to answer these research questions.

C. The likely translational applications for new knowledge about the mechanisms by which physical activity improves overall health and the long-term, overarching benefits of this knowledge.


Response to this RFI is voluntary. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response. The United States government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s).

This RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the United States government to provide support for any ideas identified in response to it. Please note that the United States government will not pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for its use of that information. Responses will be compiled and shared internally with staff from NIH, as appropriate.

How to Respond

The NIH is committed to understanding the needs of the research community and supporting high-impact research. To that end, we encourage visionary ideas that will advance the field’s understanding of the mechanisms by which physical activity contributes to health.

All interested extramural investigators and other interested parties are invited to respond.

Responses to this RFI must be submitted electronically using the web-based format at Responders are free to address any or all of the above items. Responses will be accepted until December 31, 2013.

Responders will receive an electronic confirmation acknowledging receipt of a response, but will not receive individualized feedback on any submissions. No basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall arise as a result of a response to this RFI or from the Government’s use of such information.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Amanda Taylor Boyce, Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Telephone: 301-594-5055