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An examination of the impact and sustainability of school-based physical activity interventions on long term behaviour change (HLS/DRFSPO7P/62014)

   Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation

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  Dr L Ansley  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The link between a lack of physical activity [PA], overweight status and ill health in an adult population is now well supported (National Institutes of Health (NIH); The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 1998). There is some evidence that participation in PA as a child is sustained into adulthood (Twisk et al., 2000; Telama et al., 2005). Therefore, encouraging regular physical activity (at least 60 minutes moderate to vigorous PA per day; CMO, 2011) in children could engender positive sustained behaviour change that promotes health and prevents obesity in adulthood. Moreover, it is also widely acknowledged that PA can have a positive impact on psychosocial wellbeing and cognitive development in developing children (Lai et al., 2014; Lubans et al., 2012; Singh et al., 2012).

However, De Meester et al. (2009) conducted a European review of all school-based interventions around physical activity with adolescents and found that although these interventions increased in-school participation they had limited effect on out-of-school participation in PA. More recent reviews of school-based PA interventions recommends future research should address the longer term effects and sustainability of behaviours (Kriemler et al., 2011, Lai et al., 2014), whilst also focussing on the quality of assessment measures utilised throughout the intervention (Lindsay et al., 2014).

Multi-disciplinary school-based interventions have been successful in improving knowledge and increasing self-efficacy to adopt the behaviour change. Furthermore, a child’s perceived social support may influence their uptake and maintenance of PA behaviours (Edmundson, 1996).

Therefore, the proposed research would employ a mixed methods approach to investigating PA participation through school-based intervention programmes and explore any subsequent long-term behaviour change. The research will investigate physical factors (such as moderate, vigorous physical activity MVPA, measured by accelerometer) alongside psychological determinants (such as enjoyment, motives and barriers) with a view to making recommendations for practitioners regarding the content and context of the intervention used.

Project Outline:
The project will:
1. Use a mixed methods approach to explore the physical and psychological impact of a 6 week multidisciplinary intervention on wellbeing in school children.
2. Provide an understanding of the long term effects of a 6 week multidisciplinary intervention on MVPA of participants.
3. Examine the support systems available to children in their adoption of sustained physical activity behaviour change.
The project would include measures at baseline and a further 3 timepoints over 2 years, to assess changes in outcome measures.

Enquiries regarding this studentship should be made to: Dr Spencer Earl Boyle, email: [Email Address Removed], Tel: 0191 2437776

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.

Funding Notes

The full-time studentship provides full support for tuition fees, and an annual tax-free stipend at RCUK rates (for 2015/16 this is £14,057 p.a.)


Boyle, S.E. (2014) A Comparison of Children’s Fitness in the Northwest and Southwest of England. Advances in Physical Education, 4, 165-174

Boyle, S.E., Jones, G.L., Walters, S.J. (2010) Physical activity, quality of life, weight status and diet in adolescents. Quality of Life Journal,19, 7, 943-954.

Boyle, S.E., Jones, G.L., Walters, S.J. (2010) Physical activity, weight status and diet in adolescents: are children meeting the guidelines? Health, 2,10, 1142-1149
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