Healthy Lives

Sport, Health and Exercise

The University of Hertfordshire carries out research related to ‘keeping active’ in five key areas. The first of these is research into adaptive physiology and ways in which the body can be changed by external influences such as environmental change, changes in diet, or illness. This is extended into research into functional nutrition in particular investigating micro-nutrients on health benefits such as magnesium and polyphenols. The second area of work is applied coaching and leadership, in particular how high performance coaching can enable people to keep active, and a specific focus on female coaches and leaders to encourage more women and girls to participate in physical activity. The third research area considers functional therapy and biomechanics, specifically examining the mechanism of injury, treatment and rehabilitation of ankle sprains, with a view to reducing the incidence and recurrence of the injury to enable people to keep active. The fourth area of work is health and wellbeing, and colleagues are exploring the role of exercise within patient care, specifically related to Crohn’s Disease and Colitis, as well as the health benefits of outdoor activities, and safeguarding athletes. Finally, the Sport and Exercise Psychology Research Group investigates the psychological factors underpinning the performance and wellbeing of a range of population groups, for example athletes, coaches, mental health staff, and mental health service users, with a strong focus on practitioner development and well-being through keeping active.

Most of the information for the ‘keep active’ area can be found on the SHE research website. You can also find a list of SHE staff page, and you can access their publications and projects by clicking on their profiles.

Click to visit SHE Research Website

Click to visit SHE staff page

Encouraging healthy lives

The Shape Up programme is a free 12-week weight management course for men funded by Public Health Herts and delivered by Watford FC’s Community Sports and Education Trust. The course is aimed at men aged 18 to 50-years-old with a BMI of 28 or over. Our aims are simple, we want to help as many overweight men as possible engage with and be successful with our programme so that they can lose weight, get educated and get healthy. The University of Hertfordshire evaluated the programme, the report can be read here:

The Active Herts programme is a community physical activity programme for inactive adults, with additional cardiovascular disease risk factors and/or mental health issues. Active Herts implements the best BCTs in the intervention materials/delivery and evaluates key drivers of MVPA from the COM-B as secondary outcomes. In two areas programme users are receiving a BCT booklet, regular consultations, a booster phone call, motivational text messages, and signposting to 12 weeks of exercise classes. In another two areas programme users are also receiving 12 weeks of free tailored exercise classes, with optional exercise ‘buddies’ available. An outcome evaluation is assessing changes in physical activity as the primary outcome, and sporting participation, sitting, wellbeing, psychological capability, and reflective motivation as secondary outcomes. A process evaluation is exploring the views of programme users, programme providers, and commissioners about what has worked best and why.

Active Herts in Broxbourne by Herts Sports Partnership

Health Behaviour in School Aged Children

Research into children’s health and health behaviours and the factors influencing them is essential for the development of effective health education and health promotion policy.

Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) is a WHO study carried out in a large number of countries in Europe and North America. It aims to gain new insight into adolescent health behaviours, health and lifestyles in their social context.

HBSC represents the longest running international study that focuses on the health behaviour and social context of young people. The study was initiated in 1982 by researchers from three countries and shortly afterwards the project was adopted by the World Health Organization as a WHO collaborative study. There are now 43 participating countries and regions. England has been represented in the past three survey cycles (since 1997). You can find a link to the HBSC England webpage here.

Bullying and young people

Kayleigh Chester from the Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care is a research assistant and is studying for a PhD in adolescent and child health. Kayleigh has published the following articles about the impact of bullying.

Chester, K. (2018). Bullying isn’t just verbal or physical – it can also be social, and this can have the worst effects. The Conversation. 

Chester, K. (2017). Schools need to wake up to relational bullying. Schools Week.

Project Partner Institutions