Christie Ward-Ritacco

  • Associate Professor, Graduate Program Director, Kinesiology, Core Faculty, Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program, Associate Research Professor, George and Ann Ryan Institute for Neuroscience
  • Kinesiology
  • Phone: 401.874.5638
  • Email:
  • Office Location: Independence Square, Suite P, Room 212


Christie Ward-Ritacco, Ph.D., FACSM is an Associate Professor at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Ward-Ritacco is an active member and Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Dr. Ward-Ritacco is an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Exercise Physiologist (2005-present) and currently she serves as Chair of ACSM’s Committee for Certification and Registry Boards (CCRB) (2020 – present). She previously served as a Member at Large on the CCRB Executive Committee (2018 – 2020), and as a member of ACSM’s International Health Fitness Summit Planning Committee (2017 – 2021) and the CCRB Exercise Physiologist Subcommittee (2012 – 2018). In addition to her national service, Dr. Ward-Ritacco is active within the New England Chapter of the ACSM and currently she acts as the Regional Chapter Representative (2020 – present). She previously served NEACSM as the RI state representative (2015-2017 and 2019-2020) and Member at Large, Free Communications Co-Chair (2017 – 2019).


Dr. Ward-Ritacco’s research focuses on the independent and interactive effects of physical activity, nutrition, and body composition on quality of life, with particular interest in physical function and feelings of energy and fatigue. She also has research experience investigating the role of dietary supplementation on resting metabolic rate and cognitive performance. She works regularly with interdisciplinary teams focused on physical activity and exercise, nutrition, and behavior modification. Her current research projects include assessing physical activity, body composition, quality of life, and muscular performance in middle-aged women and evaluating gait and physical function in individuals with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.  She has received funding from the Champlin Foundations, the Ryan Institute, and the Rhode Island Foundation.


  • Post-Doctoral Training, Kinesiology (Exercise Psychology), University of Georgia
  • Ph.D., Kinesiology (Exercise Physiology), University of Georgia
  • M.S., Exercise Science, University of Rhode Island
  • B.S., Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University

Selected Publications

Cooper SL, Ward-Ritacco CL, Maloney A, Collins JB. Certified exercise physiologists: Educated leaders in fitness and beyond. ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. Accepted September 2021.

Greaney ML, Kunicki ZJ, Drohan MM, Ward-Ritacco CL, Riebe D, Cohen SA. Self-reported Changes in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Screen Time among Informal Caregivers during the COVID-19 Pandemic. BMC Public Health. 2021;21(1):1292. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-11294-7.

Ward-Ritacco CL, Wilson A, O’Connor P. An apple extract beverage combined with caffeine enhances human cognitive performance, mood and motivation. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement. 2021; 5: 267-279. doi: 10.1007/s41465-020-00204-1.

Greaney, ML, Cohen, SA, Xu F, Ward-Ritacco, CL, Riebe, D. Receipt and Adoption of Recommended Weight Management Behaviors among Adults who are Overweight or Obese: Findings from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2018: A cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2020. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039295.

Earp J, Stearns R, Agostinucci J, Lepley A, Ward-Ritacco CL. Total body and extracellular water as measured by bioelectrical impedance is unrelated to cramp threshold frequency. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003839.

Ward-Ritacco CL, Meyer A, Walker G, Riebe D, Sabik N. Percent body fat, but not lean mass, is associated with objectively measured physical function in middle-aged women. Maturitas. 2020; 142: 11-16.

Earp JEStearns RLStranieri AAgostinucci J, Lepley AS, Matson T, Ward‐Ritacco, CL. Electrically induced cramping threshold responses with elextrolyte beverage consumption in euhydrated cramp prone individuals. Muscle and Nerve. 2019. doi: 10.1002/mus.26650.

Greaney ML, Cohen S, Ward-Ritacco, C, Riebe D. Rural-urban variation in weight loss recommendations among US older adults with arthritis and obesity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2019;16(6): 946-954. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16060946.

Fedewa MV, Hathaway ED, Ward-Ritacco CL. The effect of chronic exercise training on leptin: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Sports Medicine. 2018;48(6): 1437-1450. doi: 10.1007/s40279-018-0897-1. 

OʼConnor PJ, Poudevigne MS, Johnson KE, Brito de Araujo J, Ward-Ritacco CL. Effects of resistance training on fatigue-related domains of quality of life and mood during pregnancy: A randomized trial in pregnant women with increased risk of back pain. Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine. 2018;80(3): 327-332. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000559.

Fedewa MV, Hathaway ED, Ward-Ritacco CL. Effect of exercise training on C-reactive protein: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2017;51(8): 670-676. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-095999.

Ward-Ritacco CL, Poudevigne MS, O’Connor PJ. Muscle strengthening exercises during pregnancy are associated with increased energy and reduced fatigue. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2016;37(2): 68-72. doi: 10.3109/0167482X.2016.1155552.

Lay WA, Vickery CR, Ward-Ritacco CL, Johnson KB, Berg AC, Evans EM, Johnson MA. Comparison of intake of animal and plant foods and related nutrients in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors and controls. Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics.  2016;35(1).

Straight CR, Ward-Ritacco CL, Evans EM. Association between accelerometer-measured physical activity and muscle capacity in middle-aged postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2015;22(11):1204-11. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000447.

Ward-Ritacco CL, Adrian AL, O’Connor PJ, Johnson MJ, Rogers LQ, Evans EM. Feelings of energy are associated with physical activity and sleep quality, but not adiposity, in middle-aged postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2015;22(3):304-11. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000315.

Adrian AL, O’Connor PJ, Ward-Ritacco CL, Evans EM. Physical activity, pain responses to heat stimuli, and conditioned pain modulation in postmenopausal women with and without disabling pain. Menopause. 2015;22(8):816-25. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000398.

Ward-Ritacco CL, Adrian AL, Johnson MJ, Rogers LQ, Evans EM. Adiposity, physical activity and muscle quality are independently associated with physical function in middle-aged postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2014;21(10):1114-21. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000225.

Ward CL, Valentine RJ, Evans EM. Body composition and physical activity are related with performance measures of physical function in community-dwelling older adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 2014;22(2):284-293.

Ward CL, Suh Y, Lane AD, Yan H, Ranadive S, Fernhall B, Motl R, Evans EM. Body composition influences physical function in persons with Multiple Sclerosis. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development. 2013;50(8):1139-47. doi: 10.1682/JRRD.2012.08.0144.