What is the THINK program?

THINK stands for translational health in nutrition and kinesiology. The program encompasses a novel curriculum designed to educate students about nutrition and exercise science while integrating physical activities into the classroom setting. This occurs against a backdrop of STEM education designed to promote the health and well-being in youth from a science-based perspective.

The THINK program always begins with the introduction of a health-related theme relevant to nutrition or exercise science education. It can be anything from a topic on “Warm-up and Stretching” to “Thermoregulation” in exercise science. In Nutrition it can cover a topic such as “Choosing your Favorite Sports Drink” to “Plant-Based Options”. This is followed by hands-on clinical experiences using different pieces of equipment such as goniometers to measure range of motion, ECG’s to measure heart rate and rhythms during exercise, or bio-impedance and skin calipers to measure body composition. This allows participants’ to be proactive in learning more about their own bodies and how it functions in response to exercise.

Structured physical activities that reinforce educational and clinical experiences are actually infused into the classroom. These activities are designed to promote creative thinking (brain games), team play, self-expression, and fun. Physical activities can be in the form of relays, team sports, and individual fitness activities or in the form of designing one’s own warm-up and stretching program for a particular sport. The program underscores the importance of creating a culture of health and fitness among our nation’s youth thereby reversing the current “obesity” and “inactivity” trends in youth.

Recently, the program has integrated social emotional learning into the curriculum to to help participants set and achieve goals, reduce barriers to exercise, make responsible decisions, develop better communication skills, and create positive social networks.

It is hoped that graduates of the THINK program are empowered to improve their own personal lifestyle behaviors, inspired to serve as health ambassadors for their families/communities, and motivated to pursue STEM-related careers in the health sciences.



To inspire our nation’s youth to “THINK” about their nutrition and exercise options and better understand the importance of taking optimal care of their bodies from a nutritional and physical perspective. Eating well and engaging in active, healthy lifestyle behaviors is imperative for reducing chronic medical diseases and improving quality of life. Our vision is to create a culture of health and fitness in our nation youth of today so that they can enjoy a higher quality, more productive, and longer life span in the future.


To empower youth to lead active, healthy lifestyles applying information learned in nutrition and exercise science. Our mission is to develop the next generation of healthy, fit, and informed youth who can serve as health ambassadors for their families and communities. Furthermore, we hope to expose youth to the variety of career options in health promotion/ disease prevention and encourage them to pursue STEM-related careers in the health sciences.

The THINK program employs a 3-component model that interfaces educational themes with clinical experiences and relevant physical activities against a backdrop of STEM education:


In the last several years, the THINK program has collaborated with established after-school programs and has demonstrated significant improvements in physical, physical fitness, and nutrition knowledge/behaviors in children and adolescents. Our positive findings underscore the importance of extending the THINK program throughout the community to create a culture of health and fitness among our nation’s youth.

THINK Program Creator

Arlette Perry joined the University of Miami faculty and became Director of the Laboratory of Clinical and Applied Physiology (formerly known as Human Performance and Research Laboratory) in 1981. She recently stepped down as Chair after 17 years of service to focus on the THINK program and her research in cardiovascular physiology and women’s health. Dr. Perry holds a secondary appointment in the School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. Her research focuses on cardiovascular physiology (reducing metabolic risk factors), obesity prevention, women’s health, and pediatrics. A former secondary school teacher, Perry earned a Ph.D. in exercise physiology from New York University and serves as a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and The Obesity Society. In addition, she serves as a reviewer for several professional journals including Obesity Research, Journal of Sports Nutrition, Journal of Pediatrics, and the American Heart Journal.

In 2004, Dr. Perry worked on the first version of the THINK program in partnership with the Teaching and Learning department for their “Project Succeed” grant. The goal of that project was to assist teachers in translating information about exercise, nutrition, and fitness using Math and Science to help teachers teach elementary students about their own health and fitness. This led to a grant awarded by the Children’s Trust Foundation to improve healthy lifestyle behaviors and physical fitness of minority adolescents attending a University of Miami summer program. In that program, adolescents evidenced gains in physical fitness that were maintained four months after the study’s completion. More recently, Dr. Perry received a grant from an anonymous foundation to partner with the YMCA of Greater Miami in their after-school programs to empower children with the necessary tools to improve their own physical fitness, personal health, and lifestyle behaviors. Given very positive results, we hope to extend the THINK program regionally so that our culture of health and fitness can be extended to a broader population of our nation’s youth.


THINK Research



Significant physical changes as a result of the THINK program:


Increased Muscular Strength


Increased Aerobic Fitness


Increased Agility/Speed


Reduced Body Fat