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Characterising changes and covariation in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep during childhood and adolescence (AtkinAU19SF)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, May 31, 2020
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Public health interventions often seek to change the amount of time that people spend in particular behaviours, such as increasing physical activity or reducing sedentary behaviour, with the aim of enhancing health. In order to establish the net benefit to health of such a change in behaviour, however, it is necessary to understand how an individual reconfigures their time budget to enable this change. If, for example, a switch from travelling by car to bicycle for the journey to school is accompanied by reduced sleep (due to needing to get up earlier) or increased TV viewing (due to feeling more tired later in the day), the potential health benefit of increased physical activity may not be realised. To date, few studies have examined how physical activity, sedentary behaviours and sleep interact within the day to day lives of young people (clustering) or explored how changes in one domain impact upon participation in other activities (covariation). These inter-relations have important implications for the design and evaluation of behaviour change interventions and their potential to improve population health.

The aim of the PhD project will be to enhance understanding of the way in which physical activity, sedentary behaviours and sleep change and co-vary in young people during free-living and/or in response to a behaviour change programme.

Specific objectives:

• Develop a research proposal relevant to the topic outlined above and reflective of the candidate’s own research interests and experience

• Carry out a systematic literature review

Conduct secondary analysis of observational and/or intervention data

• Engage in relevant training in research skills and personal and professional development

• Disseminate results to academic and non-academic audiences

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

This is a PhD programme.

The start date of the project is 1 April 2020, 1 July 2020 or 1 October 2020.

The mode of study is full-time. The studentship length is 4 years (3 years of study with a 1-year registration period).

Please note: Applications are processed as soon as they are received and the project may be filled before the closing date, so early application is encouraged.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at View Website.

Entry requirements:

This project is suitable for someone with a good first degree (at least 2:1) and preferably a Masters in a related topic area, such as epidemiology, public health, physical activity/exercise science, psychology or health science.

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1


Tremblay, MS et al. Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth: An Integration of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Sleep. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 Jun;41(6 Suppl 3):S311-27.

Gomersall, SR et al. In search of lost time: When people undertake a new exercise program, where does the time come from? A randomized controlled trial. J Sci Med Sport. 2015 Jan;18(1):43-8.

Pedišić Ž, Olds TS, Dumuid D. Integrating sleep, sedentary behaviour, and physical activity research in the emerging field of time-use epidemiology: definitions, concepts, statistical methods, theoretical framework, and future directions. Kinesiology. 2017;49:1–18.

Foley L et al. Patterns of health behaviour associated with active travel: a compositional data analysis. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2018; 15:26.

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