Jun.-Prof. Ph.D. Nanna Notthoff

Jun.-Prof. Ph.D. Nanna Notthoff

Junior Professor

Exercise Psychology (JP)
Haus 1, B-Trakt
Jahnallee 59, Room 1403
04109 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 97-31687
Fax: +49 341 97-31639


Nanna Notthoff, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor for Exercise Psychology. Her research focuses on understanding the bi-directional relationship between motivational and emotional processes and the adoption and effectiveness of health promoting behaviors (physical activity; reduction of sedentary behavior) throughout the adult life span. In her work, she relies on a multi-method approach that includes the assessment of behavior and subjective experience in interventions and lab experiments. Ultimately, she hopes to understand how individual-level emotional and motivational factors relate to health behaviors in the context of people’s social and physical environments. She received a B.S. in Psychology and in Anthropology from the University of Michigan and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. She completed Postdoctoral training at the University of California, Berkeley and at the Humboldt University Berlin (funded by a Horizon2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship).

Professional career

  • since 05/2018
    Assistant Professor for Exercise Psychology: Leipzig University
  • 08/2014 - 04/2018
    Research Scientist: Humboldt University Berlin, Institute of Psychology
  • 10/2017 - 01/2018
    Visiting Researcher: University Medicine Greifswald Institute for Community Medicine, Section Clinical Epidemiological Research
  • 04/2015 - 05/2015
    Visiting Scholar: The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USADepartment of Human Development and Family Studies
  • 09/2013 - 07/2014
    Postdoctoral Scholar: University of California at Berkeley Institute of Personality & Social Research/ Behavior Change Research Network
  • 09/2007 - 06/2013
    Graduate Student Researcher: Life-span Development Lab, Stanford University
  • 01/2007 - 06/2007
    Project Coordinator: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, BerlinIndependent Junior Research Group Neurocognition of Decision Making
  • 09/2005 - 12/2006
    Research Assistant: Cognitive Neuroimaging Lab, University of Michigan
  • 05/2006 - 08/2006
    Research Assistant: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, BerlinCenter for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition
  • 06/2005 - 08/2005
    Project Assistant: Institut für Gesundheits- und Sozialforschung (IGES), Berlin
  • 05/2004 - 05/2005
    Research Assistant: E. Ginsberg Center for Community & Service Learning, University of Michigan
  • 06/2004 - 08/2004
    Project Assistant: Institut für Gesundheits- und Sozialforschung (IGES), Berlin
  • 09/2003 - 05/2005
    Lab Manager: Psycholinguistics Lab, University of Michigan


  • 09/2007 - 06/2013
    Stanford UniversityPh.D. in PsychologyPh.D. Thesis: Motivating Older Americans to Walk: An Application of Socioemotional Selectivity Theory
  • 09/2007 - 08/2009
    Stanford UniversityM.A. in Psychology
  • 04/2007 - 07/2007
    Technische Universität Berlin, GermanyCourses in the M.A. Degree Program Human Factors Engineering
  • 09/2003 - 12/2006
    University of Michigan, Ann ArborB.S. in Psychology (with High Distinction and High Honors) Thesis: Memory Skills and Cognitive Performance in Experienced Actors and ControlsB.S. in Anthropology (with High Distinction) Academic Minor: Applied Statistics

My research focuses on motivation for physical activity and the reduction of sedentary behavior across the life span, and particularly in older adults. In order to address the question how health promoting physical activity can be increased and unhealthy sedentary behavior can be reduced, I am pursuing three lines of research:


(i)            Development of physical activity and sedentary behavior across the life span


(ii)            Motivational processes that contribute to the initiation, increase, and maintenance of physical activity and the reduction of sedentary behavior. Development, implementation, and evaluation of interventions.


(iii)            Views on aging (self-perceptions and perceptions of others) and their role for physical activity in older adults.

I approach these topics from various angles and with a variety of methods that include interventions in the field, literature reviews/meta-analyses, laboratory experiments, and biopsychological methods.

  • Reichert, M.; Giurgiu, M.; Koch, E. D. et al.
    Ambulatory assessment for physical activity research: State of the science, best practices and future directions
    Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 2020.
    show details
  • Notthoff, N.; Gerstorf, D.; Reisch, P.
    Individual characteristics and physical activity in older adults: A systematic review
    Gerontology. 2017. pp. 443–459.
    show details
  • Notthoff, N.; Drewelies, J.; Kazanecka, P.; Steinhagen-Thiessen, E.; Düzel, S.; Norman, K.; Daumer, M.; Lindenberger, U.; Demuth, I.; Gerstorf, D.
    Feeling older, walking slower – but only if someone’s watching. Subjective age is associated with walking speed in the laboratory, but not in real life
    European Journal of Ageing. 2014. pp. 425–433.
    show details
  • Freiberger, E.; Notthoff, N.
    Wording in the area of mobility and physical activity—the challenge of perception for researchers and older persons
    German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research. 2021. pp. 410–415.
    show details
  • Ebert, B.; Streicher, H.; Notthoff, N.
    Online exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic and factors promoting or hindering participation in adults: a scoping review.
    International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 2024.
    show details

more publications

My goal as an instructor is to “reach” students in a way that motivates them to acquire the necessary competencies and skills. They are to both understand the theoretical concepts as well as apply their learnings in their occupations and in everyday life. Since my own research interests are not monodisciplinary, but rather relate psychological theorems and ways of thinking to specific questions (physical activity, health-promoting behaviors), it is my goal to introduce the students to a way of thinking that allows them to see the big picture and develop a broader understanding.

In my teaching, I rely on principles of higher education, i.e., problem-focused learning and active student participation. I try to adapt my teaching approach to the different groups of students and their individual learning styles. One prerequisite is, of course, taking into consideration the group dynamics in the seminar or lecture. In my experience, a productive learning atmosphere is best achieved when students participate in further developing the learning structure that I am offering them over the course of the semester. I support students in becoming accustomed to monitoring their own progress and success.

  • Module 08-006-0002 Research Methods in Sport Psychology

    Every winter semester and the Faculty of Sport Science at Leipzig University

  • Module 08-006-0007 Interventions, Behavior Change, and Leadership Skills Grounded in Psychological Theories in Physical Activity Programs in Prevention and Rehabilitation Settings

    Every summer semester and the Faculty of Sport Science at Leipzig University

  • Module 08-SQM-62 Physical activity and sedentary behavior across the life span

    Every winter semester and the Faculty of Sport Science at Leipzig University

  • Module 08-SQM-51 Contribution of Physical Activity and Relaxation to a Healthy and Successful Lifestyle

    Faculty of Sport Science at Leipzig University, module has ended

  • Module 08-001-0107 - Topics and Methods in Sports Science II - Project Seminar in Exercise Psychology

    Faculty of Sport Science at Leipzig University

Research fields

Sports, sport science, Psychology


Körperliche Aktivität; sitzende Lebensweise; Verhaltensänderung; Motivation; Emotion; Altersstereotype und Altersdiskriminierung

Contact for media inquiries

Phone: +49-341-97-31687
Phone: +49-160-5975650