Fitness, Aging, & STress Lab

Walking for health - Paul Glendell photo.

Welcome to the FAST Lab!

A quarter of Canadians report their lives to be quite or extremely stressful. Stress prevents people from engaging in physical activity and places them at increasing risk for chronic disease and early mortality via degradation of immune system function, alteration of protein synthesis through epigenetic pathways, and wearing down of biological and psychological stress pathways to disease. The vision for my research program is to understand how physical activity can mitigate these biological and psychological antecedents of disease to improve the health of Canadians and prevent disease development.

My research marries novel scientific discoveries and current state of the art technologies from adversity research, molecular biology, and exercise science to maximize our knowledge about physical activity as resiliency for optimal health. At present, our current understanding of habitual physical activity as resiliency to adversity is limited to observational findings. Intervention trials supplemented with laboratory-based stress manipulations and ambulatory psychological and biological assessments will broaden and deepen our understanding of the benefits of physical activity.  The long-term goal is to develop an intervention strategy that combines digital health technologies and brief contact therapy to increase retention of participants and maintenance of habitual physical activity. By focusing on health promotion in high adversity communities, my research will help to reduce the burden on our health care system.

Welcome to the FAST Lab!

– Eli Puterman, PhD

Connect with the FAST Lab
Phone – 604 822 2854
Room 104
Medical Sciences Block C
2176 Health Science Mall, UBC


Our program of research examines how physical activity, social connections, and healthy emotion regulation can mitigate the associations between psychosocial stress and biological aging – primarily using the following approaches:

  • Daily Studies
  • Intervention Trials
  • Laboratory-based Stress Manipulations
  • Archival Data




Principal Investigator: Eli Puterman, PhDFAST Lab - Swimmer In Pool

Co-Investigators: Kirsten Johansen, Elissa Epel, PhD, Richard Sloan, PhD, MD, Aric Prather, PhD,Martin Picard, PhD, Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, Jue Lin, PhD

Study Coordinator: Samantha Schilf
Sponsor: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Location: University of California, San Francisco FAST Lab

Recruiting: No

Since 2010, there has been a radical increase in the United States adult population that is providing critical care to a family member on an ongoing, daily basis. In just two years, the percent has increased from 29% to 39%. Research shows that care-giving often leads to both psychological and physical problems, and caregivers who care for family members with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia-related disorders are the most affected.

The goal of this study will be to examine whether an aerobic activity training intervention will increase cellular health, improve exercise capacity and blood pressure, and decrease psychological distress over six months in 40 caregivers compared to 40 age-matched wait list control caregivers. is embarking on a study to explore the benefits of regular physical activity to caregivers of family members who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. We are hoping to examine how the stress-disease link can be broken when regular physical activity regimens are implemented. The research team will use new biological technologies to explore how regular exercise can increase cellular, physical and mental health. Currently, the research team is recruiting caregivers between the ages of 50-75 who provide ongoing care to a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia related disorder.


Principal Investigators: Eli Puterman, PhD, Elissa Epel, PhD, Nancy Adler, PhD
Sponsors: MacArthur Network on SES and Health, NHLBI

Recruiting: No

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Aging support several longitudinal studies to  examine the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage and psychosocial stress on the development of  cardiovascular disease  as well as other chronic diseases and early mortality over the lifespan. Several of these studies, such  as the Midlife in the  United States Study (MIDUS) and the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study  (CARDIA) allow our team to  examine whether maintenance of a healthy lifestyle can mitigate the effects of socioeconomic  disadvantage on disease  development.

With funding from the MacArthur Network on SES and Health, we have the great opportunity to examine in 1002 participants from the CARDIA Study whether socioeconomic and psychosocial stress over the life course impact telomere  shortening from the age of 40 to 50.

 If you are a researcher interested in knowing more about our data with telomeres in CARDIA, please contact Eli  Puterman at


Meet the people behind FAST Lab!


Eli Puterman, PhDEli in San Francisco

Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research  Scholar
Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in Physical Activity and Health
Assistant Professor, School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Education


Dr. Eli Puterman completed undergraduate degrees in Physiology (McGill University) and Psychology (Concordia University) in Montreal, Quebec, a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology and PhD in Health Psychology at The University of British Columbia. His dissertation focused on daily experiences and sexual health practices in gay and bisexual men. After completing his graduate studies, he moved to the University of California San Francisco for a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry. He sought interdisciplinary training during his fellowship, developing extensive expertise in understanding health as a combination of genetics, lifespan adversity that shapes our biology and psychology, and the behaviours in which we engage. During his fellowship, Eli received a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the NIH to develop an exercise intervention for high stressed family caregivers and transitioned to faculty at UCSF as an Assistant Professor in 2013 to pursue this work. Over the past six years, he has advanced an innovative model that suggests that physical activity can enhance biological resiliency to the damaging effects of adversity.

Now as an Assistant Professor at UBC in the School of Kinesiology since July 2015, Eli is developing and tailoring intervention trials, supplemented with laboratory-based stress manipulations and ambulatory psychological assessments, to examine the effects of habitual physical activity on immune cell health (i.e. telomere biology, mitochondria biogenesis), epigenetic alterations and protein synthesis, autonomic and neuroendocrine stress reactivity, and ecologically assessed affective and cognitive reactivity. His goal is to better understand and improve the health of British Columbians and Canadians experiencing high adversity who are most at risk for developing diseases of aging, including caregivers and those from low-income communities.

You can visit Eli's School of Kinesiology Profile Page here.
You can view Eli's Curriculum Vitae here.


Currently in his first year of the MSc Program, Ben has a BKIN from UBC, as well as a diploma in the Culinary Arts at Vancouver Community College. He has worked in the Cardiovascular Physiology and Rehabilitation Lab as a research Assistant. His research interest includes cardiovascular stress responses to stress and statistical method evaluation. He is currently TAing the Introduction to Statistics in Kinesiology course and has a keen interest in statistics, Baseball, MS Excel, and programming in R.


Adam is a M.Sc student in UBC’s School of Kinesiology. He completed his B.A. & Sci. at McGIll University, majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in World Religions. Having worked in a neuropsychology lab throughout his undergrad, Adam has adapted his research focus and currently explores the relationship between physical activity and mental health in individuals experiencing adversity. He is passionate about using physical activity as a behavioral means to improve resiliency to stress and its harmful effects on the mind and body. Additionally, he wishes to investigate the neurobiological underpinnings that mediate the relationships between exercise, stress, and aging. In his spare time, Adam enjoys reading non-fiction (particularly history, sociology, and cultural studies), playing basketball, performing improv, and socializing. He bikes to school as much as possible and does not go a day without at least one coffee and several cups of tea.


Renée received her BSc from McGill University in 2014 with a Major in Physiology and a Minor in Kinesiology.  In pursuit of her passion for exercise physiology and the maintenance of mental and physical well-being, Renée is currently in her first year of the Master of Kinesiology program at UBC.  Her areas of interest include stress pathways and the impact of stress responses on inflammation, with a specific focus on the mitigating effects of physical activity on the body’s physiological response to psychological stressors.

Peer Reviewed Publications


  1. Puterman E, Gemmill A, Karasek D, Weir D, Adler NE, Prather AA, Epel, ES (in press). Lifespan adversity and later adulthood telomere length in the nationally representative U.S. Health and Retirement Study. PNAS.
  2. Aschbacher K, Milush JM, Gilbert A, Almeida C, Sinclair E, Epling L, Grenon SM, Marco EJ, Puterman E, Epel ES (in press). Chronic stress is associated with reduced circulating hematopoietic progenitor cell number: A maternal caregiving model. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
  3. Epel ES, Puterman E, Lin J, Blackburn EH, Lum PY, Beckmann ND, Zhu J, Lee E, Gilbert A, Rissman RA, Tanzi RE, Schadt EE (2016). Meditation and vacatation effects have an impact on disease-associated molecular phenotypes. Translational Psychiatry. 6, e880.
  4. Womack, V. Y., De Chavez, P. J., Albrecht, S. S., Durant, N., Loucks, E. B., Puterman, E., Redmond, N., Siddique, J., Williams, D. R., & Carnethon, M. R. (2016). A Longitudinal Relationship Between Depressive Symptoms and Development of Metabolic Syndrome: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 78(7), 867-873.
  5. Holtzman, S., Landis, L., Walsh, Z., Puterman, E., Roberts, D., & Saya-Moore, K. (2016). Predictors of HIV testing among men who have sex with men: a focus on men living outside major urban centres in Canada. AIDS Care, 28(6), 705-711.
  6. Lin, J., Cheon, J., Brown, R., Coccia, M., Puterman, E., Aschbacher, K., Sinclair, E., Epel, E., & Blackburn, E. H. (2016). Systematic and Cell Type-Specific Telomere Length Changes in Subsets of Lymphocytes. Journal of Immunology Research, 2016.
  7. Puterman, E., Prather, A. A., Epel, E. S., Loharuka, S., Adler, N. E., Laraia, B., & Tomiyama, A. J. (2016). Exercise mitigates cumulative associations between stress and BMI in girls age 10 to 19. Health Psychology, 35(2), 191.


  1. Verhoeven, J. E., van Oppen, P., Puterman, E., Elzinga, B., & Penninx, B. W. (2015). The association of early and recent psychosocial life stress with leukocyte telomere length. Psychosomatic Medicine, 77(8), 882-891.
  2. Mason, A. E., Laraia, B., Daubenmier, J., Hecht, F. M., Lustig, R. H., Puterman, E., Adler, N., Dallman, M., Kiernan, M., Gearhardt, A. N., & Epel, E. S. (2015). Putting the brakes on the “drive to eat”: Pilot effects of naltrexone and reward-based eating on food cravings among obese women. Eating Behaviors, 19, 53-56.


  1. Puterman, E, Lin, J, Krauss, J, Blackburn, EH, Epel, ES (2014). Determinants of telomere attrition over one year in healthy older women: Stress and health behaviors matter. Molecular Psychiatry. Advance online publication.
  2. Aschbacher, K, Kornfeld, S, Picard, M, Puterman, E, Havel, P, Stanhope, K, Lustig, R, Epel, ES (2014). Chronic Stress Increases Vulnerability to Diet-Related Abdominal Fat, Oxidative Stress,and Metabolic Risk. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 46, 14-22.
  3. Womack, VY, Ning, H, Lewis,CE, Loucks, EB, Puterman, E, Reis, J, Siddique, J, Sternfeld, B, Van Horn, L, Carnethon, MR. (2014). Relationship between perceived discrimination and sedentary behaviors in adults. American Journal of Health Behaviors, 38, 641-649.
  4. Prather, A, Puterman, E, Epel, E, & Dhabhar, FS (2014). Poor sleep quality potentiates stress-induced cytokine reactivity in postmenopausal women with high visceral abdominal adiposity. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 35, 155–62.
  5. Aschbacher, K., Kornfeld, S., Picard, M., Puterman, E., Havel, P. J., Stanhope, K., Lustig, R., & Epel, E. (2014). Chronic stress increases vulnerability to diet-related abdominal fat, oxidative stress, and metabolic risk. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 46, 14-22.


  1. Puterman, E, Epel, E, O’Donovan, A, Prather, A, Aschbacher, K, & Dhabhar, FS (2013). Anger is associated with increased IL-6 stress reactivity in women, but only among those low in social support. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. Advance online publication.
  2. Puterman, E, Haritatos, J, Schwartz, JE, Adler, NE, Sidney, S, & Epel, ES (2013). Indirect effect of financial strain on daily cortisol output through daily negative to positive affect index in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults StudyPsychoneuroendocrinology, 38 (12), 2883-2889.
  3. Puterman, E, Epel, ES, Blackburn, EH, Whooley, MA, & Cohen, B (2013). Multisystem resiliency moderates the major depression-telomere length association: Findings from the Heart and Soul StudyBrain,Behavior,and Immunity,33, 65-73
  4. Hudson, DL, Adler, NE, Puterman, E, Bibbins-Domingo, K, Kalra, P, & Matthews, K. (2013). Race, life course socioeconomic position, racial discrimination, depressive symptoms and self-rated health. Social Science & Medicine, 97, 7-14.
  5. Shalev, I, Entringer, S, Wadhwa, PD, Wolkowitz, OM, Puterman, E, Lin, J, Blackburn, EH, Epel, ES (2013). Stress and telomere biology: A lifespan perspective.  Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38,1835-42.
  6. Rawdin, B, Mellon, SH, Dhabhar, FS, Puterman, E, Epel, ES, Burke, HM, Reus, VI, Rosser, R, Nelson, JC, Wolkowitz, OM. (2013). Dysregulated Relationship of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Major Depression. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 31, 143-152.
  7. Tomiyama, AJ, Puterman, E, Rehkof, D, Epel, E, & Laraia, B (2013). Chronic Psychological Stress and Racial Disparities in Weight Gain Between Black and White Girls Aged 10-19 in the National Growth and Health Study. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 45, 3-12.


  1. Puterman E, Epel E. (2012). An intricate dance: Life experience, multisystem resiliency, and rate of telomere decline throughout the lifespan. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 807–825.
  2. Puterman E, Adler N, Matthews KA, Epel E (2012). Financial strain and impaired fasting glucose: The moderating role of physical activity in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 74, 187-92.
  3. Epel, E, Puterman, E, Lin, J, Blackburn, E, Mendes, W (2012). Wandering minds and aging cells. Clinical Psychological Science, first published on November 15, 2012,
  4. O’Donovan A, Tomiyama AJ, Lin J, Puterman E, Adler N, Kemeny M, Wolkowitz O, Blackburn E, Epel E (2012). Stress appraisals and cellular aging: A key role for anticipatory threat in the relationship between psychological stress and telomere length. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26,
  5. Tomiyama, AJ, Schamarek, I, Lustig, R, Kirschbaum, C, Puterman, E, Havel, P, & Epel, E (2012). Leptin concentrations in response to acute stress predict subsequent intake of comfort foods. Physiology and Behavior, 107, 34-39.
  6. Tomiyama AJ, O’Donovan A, Lin J, Puterman E, Lazaro A, Chan J, Dhabar F, Wolkowitz O, Kirschbaum C, Blackburn E, Epel E. (2012). Does cellular aging relate to patterns of allostasis? An examination of basal and stress reactive HPA axis activity and telomere length. Physiology and Behavior, 106, 40-45.
  7. Aschbacher K, Epel E, Wolkowitz OM, Prather AA, Puterman E, Dhabhar FS. (2012). Maintenance of a positive outlook during acute stress protects against pro-inflammatory reactivity and future depressive symptoms. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26, 346-52.


  1. Puterman E, O’Donovan A, Adler NE, Tomiyama AJ, Kemeny M, Wolkowitz OM, Epel E. (2011). Physical activity moderates stressor-induced rumination on acute cortisol reactivity. Psychosomatic Medicine, 73, 604-11.
  2. Hagedoorn M, Dagan M, Puterman E, Hoff C, Meijerink WJ, Delongis A, Sanderman R (2011). Relation­ship satisfaction in couples confronted with colorectal cancer: the interplay of past and current spousal support. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 34, 288-97.
  3. O’Donovan A, Pantell M, Puterman E, Dhabhar FS, Blackburn EH, Yaffe K, Cawthon RM, Opresko PL, Hsueh WC, Satterfield S, Newman AB, Ayonayon HN, Rubin SM, Harris T & Epel ES for the Health Aging and Body Composition Study (2011). Cumulative inflammatory load is associated with short leukocyte telomere length in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. PLoS ONE; 6, e19687.
  4. Lee-Flynn SC, Pomaki G, Delongis A, Biesanz JC, Puterman E (2011). Daily cognitive appraisals, daily affect, and long-term depressive symptoms: the role of self-esteem and self-concept clarity in the stress process. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 255-68.
  5. Hagedoorn M, Puterman E, Sanderman R, Wiggers T, Baas PC, van Haastert M, Delongis A (2011). Is self-disclosure in couples coping with cancer associated with improvement in depressive symptoms? Health Psychology, 30, 753-62.
  6. Tomfohr LM, Murphy ML, Miller GE, Puterman E (2011). Multiwave associations between depressive symptoms and endothelial function in adolescent and young adult females. Psychosomatic Medicine, 73, 456-61.
  7. Krauss J, Farzaneh-Far R, Puterman E, Na B, Lin J, Epel E, Blackburn E, Whooley MA (2011). Physical fitness and telomere length in patients with coronary heart disease: findings from the Heart and Soul Study. PLoS One, 6, e26983.
  8. Prather AA, Puterman E, Lin J, O’Donovan A, Krauss J, Tomiyama AJ, Epel ES, Blackburn EH. (2011). Shorter leukocyte telomere length in midlife women with poor sleep quality. Journal of Aging Research, 721390.


  1. Puterman E & DeLongis A & Pomaki G (2010). Protecting us from ourselves: A multilevel analysis of the role of social support in rumination. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 29, 797-820.
  2. Puterman E, Lin J, Blackburn E, O’Donovan A, Adler N & Epel E (2010). The power of exercise: Buffering the effect of chronic stress on telomere length. PLoS One. 5, e10837.
  3. Epel ES, Lin J, Dhabhar FS, Wolkowitz OM, Puterman E, Karan L, Blackburn EH (2010). Dynamics of telomerase activity in response to acute psychological stress. Brain Behavior & Immunity, 24(4):531-9.
  4. DeLongis A, Holtzman S, Puterman E & Lam M (2010). Spousal Support and Dyadic Coping in Times of Stress. In K. Sullivan & J. Davila (Eds.), Support Processes in Intimate Relationships (pp. 153-174)). New York: Oxford Press.


  1. Puterman E, DeLongis A, Lee-Baggley D & Greenglass E (2009). Coping and health behaviors in times of health crises: Lessons from SARS and West Nile. Global Public Health, 4, 69-81.
  2. Lam M, Lehman A, Puterman E & DeLongis A (2009). Spouse depression and disease course among persons with rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Care and Research, 61, 1011-17.
  3. Byrd-O’Brien T, DeLongis A, Pomaki G, Puterman E & Zwicker A (2009). Couples coping with stress: The role of empathic responding. European Psychologist, 14, 18-28.
  4. DeLongis A & Puterman E (2007). Coping skills. In G. Fink, Encyclopedia of Stress, Second edition (pp. 578-584). Oxford: Academic Press.


Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Postdoctoral Research Fellows interested in pursuing research with Dr. Puterman may apply for a position.  In order to be considered, applicants should contact Dr. Puterman with a cover letter and a copy of their curriculum vitae or resume at

Postdoctoral Research Fellows are expected to apply for funding from the most relevant branch of the Tri-Agency Funding (SSHRCC, NSERC, or CIHR) and/or other organizations.

Graduate Research Positions

Graduate students interested in pursuing research with Dr. Puterman may apply for a position. Dr. Puterman is currently accepting highly qualified students for the MA or MSc programs. In order to be considered, applicants should contact the lab with a cover letter, unofficial transcript, and a copy of their curriculum vitae or resume at

Funding may be available through grants and teaching assistantships.

Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA) Volunteer Positions

**Please note: The lab is not actively looking for new volunteers but if you are interested, please submit the required documentation, and we will keep it on file for future projects.

Undergraduate students interested in pursuing research within the FAST Lab may apply for a volunteer undergraduate research assistantship.  In order to be considered, applicants should contact the lab with a cover letter unofficial transcript, and a copy of their curriculum vitae or resume at

Undergraduates may receive specialized training in health research methodology and statistical analysis procedures. All URAs are expected to commit at least 8 hours per week, for a minimum of 4 months


Contact Us

FAST Lab Phone:
604 822 2854

FAST Lab Email:

FAST Lab Address:
Room #104 – 2176 Health Sciences Mall
Medical Sciences Block C
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC
V6T 1Z3

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