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KESS2 Scholarship: Psychological interventions for physical recovery from acute exercise induced fatigue.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, November 20, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Here is an exciting opportunity to study a method which could lead to entirely new approaches in sport psychology and sport science.
The selected candidate will apply their psychophysiological skills and ambition to investigate the use of existing psychophysiological interventions, to improve the physical and psychological recovery status of elite athlete. This project, using elite athletes as a model for health, will allow the student to develop transferable knowledge and skills in this most exciting and active field of elite athlete health and performance research.
This Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) project will be held in the Faculty Life Sciences and Education at the University of South Wales. KESS is a programme funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) awarded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) in the Welsh Government. The PhD will be associated with the Welsh Institute of Performance Science, who function as the research arm of Sport Wales Institute. The project will focus on physical and psychological recovery of elite athletes, since this has been highlighted as an area of strategic importance for Sport Wales in achieving their medal targets at Commonwealth Games.
The project is backed by Sport Wales, who are the national organisation responsible for developing and promoting sport and physical activity in Wales.
They are the main adviser on sporting matters to the Welsh Government and are responsible for distributing National Lottery funds to both elite and grassroots sport in Wales.
They fully subscribe to the Welsh Government’s vision for a physically active and sporting nation, as outlined in their strategies Climbing Higher and Creating an Active Wales.
They aim to not only improve the level of sports participation at grassroots level but also provide our aspiring athletes with the support required to compete successfully on the world stage.
Their vision (and the sectors) is to “create an active nation where everyone can have a lifelong enjoyment of sport”.

Programme of research

Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (HRVB) is a method of enhancing autonomic homeostasis and parasympathetic pathways. By training individuals to augment heart rate variability (HRV) via breathing techniques, they can achieve a state of respiratory sinus arrhythmia, whereby heart rate increases with inhalation and decreases with exhalation. A growing body of evidence shows clinical therapeutic efficacy of HRVB, and its use in sports science and rehabilitative medicine is increasing.
Recovery from acute physical and psychological stress (e.g. exercise, medical operations, illness) is important for elite performances and to maintain general health and well-being. Over-trained athletes can be distinguished by a decrease in parasympathetic autonomic cardiac modulation and sympathetic activation, as indicated by measures of heart rate variability (HRV) and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS). For the last 4 years, we have used heart rate variability biofeedback (HRVB) interventions for stress management in elite sport and have observed secondary anecdotal benefits for physical recovery. The proposed project aims to formally examine HRVB as a recovery intervention for acute physical stress and overload in elite sport.

How to Apply

Application Process:
To download an application package, please visit: Participant Application Package
For any queries on eligibility, please contact: KESS Team at Research and Innovation Services, University of South Wales: Tel: 01443 482578

For informal enquiries or further programme information, please contact: Professor David Shearer ().

Further information at:

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover the fees for a full-time PhD programme and pay a stipend of circa £14k p.a. There is also around £9k project support costs available for consumables, travel, minor equipment, training (including the KESS Grad School) and conference attendance.
The position is available from 1st January/1 April 2020.

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