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Sedentary behaviour, physical activity, psychological stress and vascular health - implications for cardiovascular disease

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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  Dr N Paine, Dr E O'Donnell  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF, 2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. Find out more.


Sedentary behaviour, physical activity and psychological stress are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. However, the underlying mechanisms which underlie this risk are not fully understood.

Our recent work has shown that inflammation, which is a characteristic of sedentary behaviour and acutely increases under episodes of psychological stress, might play an important role in linking these risk factors. Importantly inflammation is also closely related to vascular function, with vascular dysfunction also a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The proposed project will utilize a wide range of interdisciplinary methods, encompassing psychobiology, cardiovascular and behavioural measures to investigate measures of vascular function and health in the context of psychological stress, sedentary behaviour, and physical activity.

The project will include a range of methodological designs, including randomised cross-over designs, to examine the potential role of the vascular system more closely in the context of sedentary behaviour, physical activity and psychological stress.

The project will be based within the National Centre of Sport and Exercise Medicine on the Loughborough University campus.


Primary supervisor: Dr Nicola Paine

Secondary supervisor(s): Dr Emma O'Donnell


Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Applicants should have at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Human/Exercise Physiology, or a Health-science related subject. They should also have a relevant master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following areas: Exercise Physiology, Sport and Exercise Science, or a Health-science related subject.

Applicants should have experience within an exercise physiology environment with a focus on cardiovascular assessments (e.g., dissertation work, employment), and/or an existing phlebotomy qualification. Previous experience with device-measured physical activity or sedentary behaviour is advantageous. In addition, applicants should have excellent oral and written communication skills, as well as confidence in research methods and ability to work independently and as part of a wider team.

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact to discuss the project in more detail before making an application.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Find out more about research degree funding


All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select 'Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences'. Please quote the advertised reference number SSEHS/NJP in your application. To avoid delays in processing your application please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK Fee - £4,500 full time degree per annum
International Fee - £24,100 full time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.
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