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Playing Squash to Improve Health & Wellbeing: Quantifying physiological and psychological demands towards advanced age

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Ranchordas
    Dr Jon Wheat
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Faculty of Health & Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University
Centre for Sport and Exercise Science
PhD Research Studentship (full-time for 3 years)
Stipend: £14,777 per annum

A three-year PhD studentship is available to UK and EU students. The studentship covers home/EU tuition fees, stipend equivalent to full UK Research Council rate and research expenses.

Squash is played in all corners of the globe with the World Squash Federation boasting 150 national governing bodies and 50,000 courts worldwide (World Squash Federation, 2018). It was a showcase sport at the recent 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, conveying it’s international appeal. In England, over 200,000 individuals partake in a game of squash a week, across the 4,200 facilities which have a squash court (England Squash, 2018).

Squash is regularly cited as one of the best sports to improve and maintain cardiovascular and muscular endurance, strength, flexibility, increase energy expenditure and reduce injury risk (Sharp, 1998). Indeed, racket sports significantly reduce the risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease compared to swimming, aerobics, cycling, running and soccer (Oja et al. 2017).

Within the general population worldwide, the risk of mortality especially from cardiovascular disease in the elderly has increased (Bhatnagar et al. 2016), posing a considerable logistical and financial burden on healthcare providers worldwide. This has subsequently led the NHS to promote racket sports as a beneficial mode of exercise in an attempt to increase life expectancy rates and reduce cardiovascular disease incidence (NHS, 2016). Despite this, there is no current research quantifying the energy expenditure of squash and its effects on blood pressure, blood lipid profiles, body composition and overall health, as well as the proposed psychological benefits. Much of the scientific research concerning racket sports has focused on tennis, despite the Professional Squash Association claiming that squash is a superior mode of exercise due to it’s high-intensity interval-type nature and time-effectiveness (PSA, 2018).

Consequently, the purpose of this programme of research is to examine the energy demands of squash, study its effects on acute and chronic blood pressure, blood lipid profile, body composition and psychological markers of health and wellbeing to quantify the games health benefits in adults older than 50 years of age, who are at an accelerated risk of developing health-related medical issues.

Successful applicants will:

• hold a good undergraduate degree (2:i or first) in Sport and Exercise Science and ideally have a relevant Masters qualification in Sport and Exercise Science or Sport Nutrition
• have a strong minimum of English proficiency (IELTS minimum overall score of 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component)
• have some applied sport nutrition experience in working with squash
• ideally hold a squash coaching qualification

Supervision team:

Director of Studies - Dr Mayur Ranchordas

Second supervisor - Prof. Jon Wheat

General information about the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science can be found at:

Funding Notes

Candidates should apply to SHU via the University application form, including a 1500 word research proposal demonstrating your background reading on the topic of the PhD and your plans for how you would undertake this programme.

Include a cover letter describing why you are interested in pursuing postgraduate studies and how you meet the selection criteria. Completed application forms to [Email Address Removed]

Application forms can be downloaded at:

For project enquiries contact [Email Address Removed]

Key Dates:

• Application deadline - 18 March 2019
• Interviews - 03 April 2019
• Studentship to begin in May 2019


1. World Squash Federation. (2018). About us. Retrieved from

2. England Squash. (2018). About us... What we do. Retrieved from

3. Sharp N. C. (1998). Physiological demands and fitness for squash. In Science and Racket Sports II. A. Lees, I. Maynard, M. Hughes and T Reilly, eds. London, United Kingdom: E & FN Spon, 1998. pp 4-13

4. Oja, P., Kelly, P., Pedisic, Z., Titze, S., Bauman, A., Foster, C., . . . Stamatakis, E. (2017). Associations of specific types of sports and exercise with all-cause and cardiovascular-disease mortality: A cohort study of 80 306 British adults. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(10), 812. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096822

5. Bhatnagar, P., Wickramasinghe, K., Wilkins, E., & Townsend, N. (2016). Trends in the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease in the UK. Heart, 102(24), 1945. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2016-309573

6. NHS. (2016). Want to Live Longer? Try Racket Sports, Study Recommends. Retrieved from

7. Health. (2018). 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Retrieved from

8. PSA. (2018). Fitter and Faster than Ever... The Data Highlighting Squash's True Physical Demands. Retrieved from

How good is research at Sheffield Hallam University in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 32.00

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

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