About the Centre
Our work is not Sports Science. We focus almost entirely on the health rather than the performance-related aspects of physical activity and sport.
Our academic focus
The rationale for our academic focus is based on lifestyle and its effect on health. Physical activity, eating, and stress patterns have a critical impact on risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis and other serious health problems. We now have clear evidence that lack of physical activity ranks alongside hypertension, high cholesterol levels, and cigarette smoking as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and many other health problems such as obesity and diabetes. There is also a growing awareness of the benefits of exercise for mental well-being and avoiding stress-related illnesses, depression and anxiety.
The importance of physical activity in community health is recognised by the government in the White Paper on future health policy, "Our Healthier Nation". Already we are seeing physical activity promotion as an important initiative in primary care group strategies and health improvement plans across the nation. This is accompanied by greater opportunities for the funding of research projects and greater employment opportunities for trained professionals.
Our teaching and research therefore focus on the biomedical, psychosocial and promotional elements of physical activity. We address questions such as:-
- What are the physical and mental benefits of exercise and healthy eating for various population groups?
- What factors and programmes are influential in promoting lifestyle change, and physical activity in particular?
A large part of our work involves conducting research and we have already established national and international reputations in aspects of our published research. Topics we are currently involved with are:
- Physical activity measurement technology
- Health, fitness and lifestyles of young people
- Health promotion in the community and workplace
- Exercise, weight management and the treatment of obesity
- Behavioural change related to health and lifestyle
- Exercise and risk factors in high risk populations
- Exercise, mental illness and mental well-being
- Physical activity promotion strategies and models
We are a part of the School for Policy Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law and have links with many other well-established university departments such as Social Medicine, Education, Child Health, Psychology and Medicine. It is possible to attend seminars and courses with some of these groups. We also have access to local hospitals and schools and have strong links with local companies such as Hewlett-Packard. In addition, we work closely with the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Health who run the Healthy Living and Sports Medicine unit, and provide exercise opportunities for everyone from students to the over 60s groups. Access to exercise and sport for all is fundamental to our joint philosophy.
This means that for students, we provide a rich environment for learning both at the academic level through formal teaching and through opportunities to be involved in research projects, teaching and placements involving professional practice.