Translating research

Areas of translating research and the associated staff:

Maximising Carbohydrate Delivery to Fuel Enhanced Athletic Performance

Endurance athletes need to maximize energy provision and their hydration state to perform at their very best. Led by the School's researchers in the area of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, we have contributed to the development of carbohydrate-based sports food and drinks that can optimize endurance performance. This work has demonstrated that the utilization of ingested carbohydrate and fluid delivery during exercise can be enhanced by consuming 'multiple-transportable carbohydrates.'  

Nutrition drink

Results of the studies conducted have contributed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Consensus Statement on Sports Nutrition which was published in 2011.  This line of research also underpinned new product innovation within the global sport nutrition food and beverage industry.  Companies such as Nestlé SA have developed a new range of products (e.g., PowerBar®) that are now marketed to consumers (elite athletes as well as the general public) around the world.

Evidence-based Leader Training to Promote Engagement in Sport and Other Physical Activity Settings

A long-standing line of research, led by Professor Joan Duda, has indicated that the motivational 'climate' created by leaders (such as coaches and teachers) is a key determinant of whether participants in physical activities stay involved and realize enhanced wellbeing via their participation.  However, previously there has been no targeted and scientifically grounded training on motivation and how leaders can enhance the quality of engagement of those with whom they work.  

A family of training programmes (i.e., Empowering Coaching™ workshops;, which are grounded in theory and evidence-based, have been developed to address this void in provision. Within the contexts of youth sport, physical education and dance, Professor Duda and her team have delivered these training programmes both nationally and internationally.  The 'PAPA' project (, for example, entailed the implementation and evaluation of Empowering Coaching™ within grassroots football across 5 different European countries. 

Empowering Coaching and Project PAPA

Work is undergoing to incorporate Empowering Coaching™ training in coaching awards and CPD for PE teachers.  A social enterprise is being developed to further exploit these programmes in terms of their further impact on practice and professional standards.

Professor Duda describes her research in 60 seconds


Take the Stairs

Increasing Stair Climbing to Promote More Physical Activity

The physical and psychological benefits of regular physical activity (PA) are well documented.  Yet an alarming percentage of children and adults do not engage in sufficient levels of PA to promote health.  With the aim of combating this major public health challenge, emphasis is now being placed on how we can enhance the general public's accumulation of PA during daily living.  

Frank Eves

One key strategy is to intervene within the built environment to facilitate people taking the more physically active alternative. Led by Dr Frank Eves, research has been conducted to test different methods to encourage stair climbing rather than taking the lift or riding the escalator.  Interventions (such as placing messages on stair risers) have been implemented in train stations, shopping centres and the workplace in the UK and abroad.  This work has informed reviews conducted by NICE (UK) and CDC (USA) and has led to guidelines on the importance of signage at points of choice as a public health message to increase stair use.

Find out more about this research here

Promoting the Adoption and Maintenance of Active Lifestyles in 'Hard to Reach' Communities

Researchers in the School have successfully met the challenge of reaching notoriously 'hard to reach' populations with respect to the promotion of regular physical activity (PA). Two of these recognized 'hard-to-reach' groups include ethnic minority communities and patients who are at risk of disease onset (e.g., have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease) and/or are suffering from reduced quality of life and function due to chronic disease.  

In work led by Professor Janice Thompson, information on South Asian women's levels of PA and amount of time spent sedentary was obtained.  This research also pointed to limitations of using commonly employed methods (as might be employed by researchers, local health authorities, community groups) to assess PA and sedentary time in such ethnic minority populations.  

Projects led by Professor Joan Duda have involved implementing motivation-theory grounded interventions to foster more intrinsic reasons for PA engagement and increase overall levels of PA in participants within the Birmingham exercise on referral scheme and patients living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).   

In the research of Dr Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten and colleagues, it has been demonstrated that it is not only possible for RA patients to engage safely in exercise, but that regular PA can lead to improved cardiorespiratory fitness and reduced disease activity and symptom severity.  Our work on 'hard to reach' populations has impacted on policy and practice within the NHS and has influenced recommendations made by key professional associations (e.g., NRAS, EULAR, and the American College of Rheumatology) regarding the importance of PA in the management of RA.

Professor Janice L. Thompson describes her research in 60 seconds.
Video transcript here