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Exploring the potential for reducing sedentary behaviour in the treatment of peripheral arterial disease

Project Description

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), caused by a narrowing to the arteries in the lower limbs, is a serious chronic disease that affects around 20% of those over the age of 60 years and dramatically increases the risk of having a heart attack or premature death. Exercise training is a recognised therapy in the treatment of PAD, improving pain free walking distance, physical function and quality of life. However, exercise programmes are not routinely available to patients and have poor uptake or adherence when they are. This PhD programme of research will aim to investigate whether a novel approach to promoting increased physical activity, through breaking prolonged sitting behaviour with short bouts of functional activities, can be used to improve physical function and metabolic health in PAD.

Programme of research

The PhD programme of research will be built around three areas:

1. Defining the prevalence and importance of physical behaviours in PAD
Existing dataset will be used to undertake epidemiological studies describing patterns of physical behaviours (sleep, sedentary behaviours and physical activity) in PAD and how these relate to health markers and outcomes. This will include supporting and utilising data collection from the CODEC cohort of individuals with type 2 diabetes recruited within the East Midlands, as well accessing national datasets such as UK Biobank.

2. Literature Review
A systematic review (and potentially meta-analysis) will be conducted investigating the efficacy of physical activity at improving physical function in PAD. The research question will be designed to address a gap in knowledge, such as the role of light-intensity exercise or adherence and attendance rates within traditional exercise training interventions.

3. Intervention study
Hypothesis: An intervention to break prolonged sedentary time improves physical function in those with intermittent claudication

Design: Randomised control trial with assessments at baseline, 6 and 12 weeks

Participants: Adults (40-75 years) with intermittent claudication will be recruited from primary and secondary care. Those with dementia, critical limb ischemia, foot ulcers, major amputation, taking insulin therapy or an inability to walk unaided will be excluded.

Interventions: Individuals will be randomised to standard care control or an intervention to break prolonged sedentary time (B-SED). The B-SED intervention will be designed by the student and aimed at enabling individuals to regularly break sedentary (sitting) time with short bouts of functional activity, including stepping, sit-to-stand repetitions, and arm exercises. The intervention will consist of regular face-to-face and telephone coaching, action planning and self-monitoring.

Outcomes: The primary outcome will be physical function, assessed using the physical performance test (PPT). This test requires participants to complete 9 tasks of daily living, which are scored (0 to 4) based on their ability and speed at carrying out the tasks. Total scores range from 0 to 36.

Secondary outcomes will be identified as part of the studentship, but will include: a walking test; objective measures of sleep, sedentary behaviour and physical activity; muscle strength and volume; body composition; markers of cardiometabolic health, depression and anxiety; and quality of life

Sample size: It is estimated that around 30 individual will need to be recruited per group (60 in total).

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject. The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable:

How to apply

You should submit your application using our online application system:

Apply for a PhD in Health Sciences

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for a George Davies Charitable Trust studentship

In the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project you want to be considered for.

Project / Funding Enquiries

Application enquiries to
Closing date for applications: 30th of August 2019 or until position is filled

Funding Notes

Funding Available by the George Davies charitable donation to University of Leicester
Fees: 3 years tuition fees at UK/EU rates funded
Stipend: 3 year standard stipend based on RCUK rates

RTSG: £1,300 per annum for 3 years


• McCarthy M, Edwardson CL, Davies MJ, Henson J, Rowlands A, King JA, Bodicoat DH, Khunti K, Yates T. Breaking up sedentary time with seated upper body activity can regulate metabolic health in obese high‐risk adults: A randomized crossover trial. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. 2017 Dec;19(12):1732-9.
• Mccarthy M, Edwardson CL, Davies MJ, Henson J, Bodicoat DH, Khunti K, Dunstan DW, King JA, Yates T. Fitness Moderates Glycemic Responses to Sitting and Light Activity Breaks. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2017 Nov 1;49(11):2216-22.
• Henson J, Davies MJ, Bodicoat DH, Edwardson CL, Gill JM, Stensel DJ, Tolfrey K, Dunstan DW, Khunti K, Yates T. Breaking up prolonged sitting with standing or walking attenuates the postprandial metabolic response in postmenopausal women: a randomized acute study. Diabetes care. 2016 Jan 1;39(1):130-8.
• Edwardson CL, Yates T, Biddle SJ, Davies MJ, Dunstan DW, Esliger DW, Gray LJ, Jackson B, O’Connell SE, Waheed G, Munir F. Effectiveness of the Stand More AT (SMArT) Work intervention: cluster randomised controlled trial. bmj. 2018 Oct 10;363:k3870.
• Conte MS, Bradbury AW, Kolh P, White JV, Dick F, Fitridge R, Mills JL, Ricco JB, Suresh KR, Murad MH, Aboyans V. Global vascular guidelines on the management of chronic limb-threatening ischemia. European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery. 2019. S1078-5884(19)30380-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2019.05.006. [Epub ahead of print]
• Popplewell MA, Bradbury AW. Why do health systems not fund supervised exercise programmes for intermittent claudication?. European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery. 2014 Dec 1;48(6):608-10.

How good is research at University of Leicester in Clinical Medicine?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 72.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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