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Physical activity prescription to improve mental and physical health in people with vision loss

Project Description

Regular participation in physical activity has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, certain cancers and in older adults Alzheimer’s disease, as well as prevention of falls and greater independence. However, research has shown that physical activity levels among those with low vision is critically low.

Regular exercise may also protect against acquisition and progression of eye disease. It has been shown to increase antioxidant enzyme activity and increase resistance to oxidative stress, thought to be one of the key components in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration. Low levels of physical activity are of further concern as those who have poor vision report a low quality of life (QOL) and high levels of depression and anxiety. As physical activity is a key determinant of a high QOL and low levels of depression and anxiety, increasing physical activity among people with low vision should therefore boost mental health and wellbeing.

A physical activity recommendation from a health professional can influence behaviour. To ensure physical activity is sustainable over the long term a physical activity intervention should be embedded in habit theory. It has been suggested that habit formation advice can be effectively delivered by a health professional.

Aim of research

The aim of the present project is to develop and examine the feasibility and promise of exercise prescription (i.e. the promotion of any domain of physical activity) to patients with low vision. The effect of exercise on physical and mental health will be measured.

This project will include a systematic review on the physical and mental health benefits of exercise in those with low vision; semi-structured interviews or focus groups to identify barriers and facilitators to exercise prescription in people with low vision and to identify optimal routes for prescription and the development and testing of an exercise prescription intervention for the visually impaired embedded in habit theory.

To discuss the research project, please contact Prof. Peter Allen at

Candidate requirements

Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second-class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in a cognate discipline. A Masters degree in a relevant subject is desirable.


You can apply via our landing page We will review all applications after the submission deadline of 9 February. Applications missing the project reference number will be rejected as will applications for multiple studentships.

If you have any queries relating to the application process or the terms and conditions of the studentships, please contact Becky Kraszewski on 01245 684920, or email .

Documentation required

You will also need the following documents available electronically to upload them to the application portal (we can accept files in pdf, jpeg or Word format):

1) Certificates and transcripts from your Bachelor and Masters degrees, (if applicable)
2) Your personal statement explaining your suitability for the project
3) Passport and visa (if applicable)
4) English Language qualifications (if applicable)
5) Curriculum Vitae

Funding Notes

The successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s studentship awards which covers Home/EU tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the studentship Terms and conditions.

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