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Physical Activity, Health and Clinical Exercise Physiology

We focus on the impact of physical activity and exercise on health and wellbeing. We develop, implement, monitor and evaluate interventions supporting public health specialists and clinicians as demanded.

Focus of our research

The Physical Activity, Health and Clinical Exercise Physiology theme undertakes high quality research and consultancy that is meaningful, impactful and aims to educate, encourage and support people to be active everyday as a way of life.

We focus on epidemiology as well as the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of physical activity and exercise interventions in real world settings.  This includes working with public health specialists in communities to reduce physical activity inequalities as well as working with clinicians in primary or secondary to reduce the impacts of non-communicable diseases.

Encompassing the whole life cycle we draw upon the disciplines of exercise physiology, nutrition, exercise psychology, biomechanics and implementation science in order to better understand movement and how to get people to move. We have extensive experience of whole systems approaches to physical activity and understanding complexity.

Key researchers

Professor David Broom

David Broom is Professor of Physical Activity, Exercise and Health and research theme lead in the Centre for Physical Activity, Sport and Exercise Sciences at Coventry University.

His area of expertise is the effects of physical activity, exercise and nutritional interventions on appetite and energy balance in the prevention and treatment of excess weight and associated comorbidities including Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This includes the funded development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of such interventions with burgeoning expertise in home-based exercise.

Notably, he was on the Chief Medical Officers expert working group that updated the adult Physical Activity Guidelines published in 2019. He is former Chair of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Division of Physical Activity for Health. He is a founding member of Clinical Exercise Physiology UK and is the current chair of the conference organising committee.

Dr. Matt Hill

Dr. Matt Hill is an Assistant Professor based at the Research Centre for Physical Activity, Sport and Exercise Sciences at Coventry University.

Matt’s research programme is broadly focused on understanding interactions between emotional, cognitive, and sensory-motor systems underlying balance control, particularity in older age. His current research involves manipulating balance-related fear and anxiety (using virtual reality, heights, or unexpected sudden perturbations to balance) to simulate the environmental conditions that cause fear of falling in the real world.

Despite his early career status, Matt has a growing international research reputation and has published over 50 papers in the areas of balance and falls.

Dr Darren Richardson

Dr. Darren Richardson is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Physical Activity, Sport and Exercise Sciences at Coventry University.

His research interests include the use of ergogenic aids in health and sport performance and how resistance exercise can be used to influence functional performance outcomes in older adults.

Dr. Nikita Rowley

Dr Nikita Rowley is an ASPiRE Research Fellow in the Research Centre for Physical Activity, Sport and Exercises Sciences at Coventry University.

Her area of expertise is physical activity, exercise and health, and health behaviour change. Nikita has been involved in the design, implementation, redevelopment, monitoring and evaluation of exercise/physical activity on referral locally and nationally.

As well as having experience within academia, Nikita has over 15 years' experience of working in practice within the fitness industry. Nikita is currently leading the research on a Sport England funded project through the Active Partnerships National Office and Move Consulting on the development of a national physical activity for health pathway.

Nikita is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society (BPS). She has a background within health and exercise psychology and has expertise in health behaviour change.

Dr. Ruth Ashton

Dr Ruth Ashton is an Associate Professor in Clinical Exercise Science in the Centre for Physical Activity, Sport and Exercise Sciences at Coventry University.

After working in industry, Ruth completed her PhD in 2019 within the field of cancer and clinical exercise physiology. Dr Ashton has been part of the development of several clinical investigations in patients with cardiovascular conditions, cancer, COVID-19 and Long Covid. Such investigations have used approaches to improve quality of life and clinical outcomes.

Ruth has been awarded research grants from The Urology Foundation, BIOREME and GILEAD Sciences, an American pharmaceutical company. She is an accredited Clinical Exercise Physiologist and is on the conference organising committee for Clinical Exercise Physiology UK.

Project Spotlight


Project Name Project Information Project Link
Service Evaluation of Lifestyle Clinics

The most prevalent physical activity intervention for those with or at risk of morbidity are commonly referred to as Exercise on Referral Schemes or Physical Activity Referral Schemes 
Does Physical Inactivity Influence Productivity in the Workplace and Labour Market Outcomes?

The Midlands Engine commissioned the Physical Activity and Health theme to explore the relationship between physical activity and physical inactivity, productivity and labour market outcomes. 
Great expectations: a predictive processing account of human balance control

For much of history, scientists have believed that the way we experience the world (our perception) is a result of our brain passively receiving incoming sensory stimuli. 
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University of the year shortlisted
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