Professor Afroditi Stathi PhD, FECSS

Professor Afroditi Stathi

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Professor of Physical Activity and Community Health
Community Health Lead - Centre of Urban Wellbeing

Contact details

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Afroditi Stathi is an expert in the field of the promotion of active and healthy ageing.  She leads a portfolio of international, interdisciplinary research which investigates ways of supporting older people achieving meaningful and lasting lifestyle changes and living healthier and fulfilling lives.


  • PhD Exercise and Health Science. University of Bristol, U.K.
  • MSc Recreation Management. Loughborough University, U.K.
  • BSc in Physical Education and Sports Sciences. Democritus University of Thrace, Greece


Professor Afroditi Stathi joined the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham in February 2018. Previously, she worked for 11 years at the University of Bath where she holds an Honorary Professorship. She completed her postgraduate studies at Loughborough University (MSc) and Bristol University (PhD) with scholarships by the Greek State Scholarships Foundation and the A.S. Onassis Public Foundation.


Professor Stathi’s teaching methods and approach reflect her 20 years of experience as an educator and researcher. Her drive is to be at the forefront of research, education and career development in the area of physical activity promotion with a particular focus on educating undergraduate, graduate, professional and post-graduate students in an integrated model of practical care and research. 

  • Year 2: UG: Developing as a Researcher
  • Year 3: UG Exercise is Medicine
  • MSCi: Promoting Physical Activity for Health and Well-being 

A testament of her focus on transformative teaching is her involvement with The Vice-Chancellor’s Challenge (UoB) initiative in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Postgraduate supervision

Since 2015, Professor Stathi has served as Lead Supervisor for 5 PhD students and Co-supervisor for 4 PhD students with a 100% completion success rate to date and served as Lead Supervisor for 3 MRes students. She currently supervises 2 doctoral students and welcomes applications from potential doctoral researchers in her areas of interest.

Students who are considering applying to the University of Birmingham to work with Afroditi should contact her by email in advance.


Professor Stathi has a sustained track record of success in the field of active ageing and public health research with an outstanding profile in leading large community-based trials over the last 25 years. Within a period of only five years (2015-2020), she secured as Chief Investigator two large grants (total value of £3.4 million) from the NIHR-Public Health Research Programme.

She is a recognised international researcher, evidenced by collaborations and publications with colleagues from 16 countries.  In 2018 she was invited to serve as an Expert Member the UK Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity panel for older adults. The panel produced the technical report which scientifically underpins the revised physical activity guidelines for children, adults and older adults. 

Her research portfolio focuses on three inter-related themes: 

1) Exploring relationships between physical activity, mobility and well-being;

2) Employing citizen science methodologies to better understand the social, psychological, and environmental determinants of and barriers to physical activity; and

3) Developing and evaluating lifestyle interventions targeting older adults. 


Grants with Dr Stathi as Chief investigator 

1.                £1,834,090 NIHR Public Health Research Programme. A multi-centre randomised controlled trial of a peer-volunteer led active ageing programme to fprevent decline in physical function in older people at risk of mobility disability. The ACE (Active, Connected, Engaged) study. 2021-2025. 

2.                £1,641,790 NIHR Public Health Research Programme. A multi-centre randomised controlled trial and economic evaluation of a community-based physical activity intervention to prevent mobility-related disability for retired older people. The REACT (REtirement in ACTion) study. 2015-2020. 

3.            £248,899 MRC (Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative-Phase 3). Developing a model of volunteering action in promoting active ageing in the community: Project ACE (Active, Connected and Engaged). 2012-2014.

4.            £48,058 MRC (Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative-Phase 2). The Avon Network for Physical Activity Promotion of Older People in the community. 2009-2010. 

Grants with Professor Stathi as Co-Investigator 

1.            £8679 ESRC Impact Acceleration Account – Urgency Fund. (Chief Investigator: Victoria Goodyear, University of Birmingham). Optimising Social Media for Physical Activity and Nutrition during COVID-19. 2020.

2.            £589,601 MRC National Prevention Research Initiative. (Chief Investigator: Dylan Thompson, University of Bath). Mi-PACT: Multi-dimensional personalised physical activity profiles in at risk men & women. 2012-2016.

3.            £86,400 Dunhill Medical Trust. (Chief Investigator: Ken Fox, University of Bristol). OPAL-PLUS: How have you been?” A four-year follow-up of the “Older people and active living: Project OPAL” study. 2011-2012. 

4.            £239,713 NIHR-Research for Patient Benefit. (Chief Investigator: Colin Greaves, University of Exeter). Waste the Waist: Pilot randomised controlled trial of a primary care based lifestyle intervention for reducing cardiovascular and diabetes risk. 2010–2013. 

5.            £11,940. AVON Primary Care Research Collaborative Partnership. (Chief Investigator: Ken Fox, University of Bristol). A process evaluation of the Avon Network for Physical Activity Promotion of Older People in the community. 2010-2011. 

6.            £167,600 MRC/ESRC National Prevention Research Initiative.  (Chief Investigator: Ken Fox, University of Bristol). Older People and Active Living: Project OPAL. 2006-2009. 

Her long-term goals are to sustain and further develop her international research programme around the above themes, to strategically inform social and health care policy and practice, to produce publications in high impact peer-reviewed journals, and to translate these activities into real world impact. 

Her research programme tackles important current and future health priorities and is closely aligned with national and international government and health service policy and initiatives. 

In 2017, Professor Stathi received the University of Bath Vice Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement with Research. Watch the video of her winning talk here:

Other activities

Fellow of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS) 

Member of:

The Our Voice: Citizen Science for Health Equity Global Network led by Stanford University which involves colleagues from Australia, Colombia, Israel, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, UK and the US. Together we build an agenda for robust research, implementation and dissemination of Citizen Science projects globally. 

The University of Sydney-led international VILPA (Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity) network which develops an international, multidisciplinary research programme dedicated to the study of intermittent lifestyle physical activity. This is an international collaboration with leading researchers in England, Ireland, Denmark, USA, Canada and Australia.

Expert Member of the UK Chief Medical Officers physical activity panel for older adults. The panel’s work was to produce a technical report which scientifically underpins the revised physical activity guidelines for children, adults and older adults.

Member of the Goldies Charity Board of Trustees and Health and Well-being Lead.


Recent publications


Cross, R, Greaves, C, Withall, J, Kritz, M & Stathi, A 2023, 'A qualitative longitudinal study of motivation in the REtirement in ACTion (REACT) physical activity intervention for older adults with mobility limitations', International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 20, no. 1, 50.

Thoomes, E, de Graaf, M, Gallina, A, Falla, D & Stathi, A 2023, 'Comparison between two patient-reported outcome measures for patients with cervical radiculopathy: A think-aloud study', Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, vol. 65, 102764.

Improving Your Local Area Citizen Scientists and Community Stakeholders 2023, 'Employing citizen science to enhance active and healthy ageing in urban environments', Health and Place, vol. 79, 102954.

Schoenfelder, A, Metcalf, B, Langford, J, Stathi, A, Western, MJ & Hillsdon, M 2023, 'The Analytical and Clinical Validity of the pfSTEP Digital Biomarker of the Susceptibility/Risk of Declining Physical Function in Community-Dwelling Older Adults', Sensors, vol. 23, no. 11, 5122.

Ladlow, P, Western, MJ, Greaves, CJ, Thompson, JL, Withall, J, Koning, JD, Bollen, JC, Moorlock, SJ, Guralnik, JM, Fox, KR & Stathi, A 2023, 'The REtirement in ACTion exercise programme and its effects on elements of long term functionality in older adults', Frontiers in public health, vol. 11, 1151035.

Stathi, A, Withall, J, Greaves, CJ, Thompson, JL, Taylor, G, Medina-Lara, A, Green, C, Snowsill, T, Johansen-Berg, H, Bilzon, J, Gray, S, Cross, R, Western, MJ, Koning, JLD, Ladlow, P, Bollen, JC, Moorlock, SJ, Guralnik, JM, Rejeski, WJ, Hillsdon, M & Fox, KR 2022, 'A group-based exercise and behavioural maintenance intervention for adults over 65 years with mobility limitations: the REACT RCT', Public Health Research, vol. `0, no. 14.

Dogra, S, Dunstan, D, Sugyiama, T, Stathi, A, Gardiner, P & Owen, N 2022, 'Active aging and public health: evidence, implications, and opportunities', Annual Review of Public Health, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 439-459.

Wood, GER, Pykett, J & Stathi, A 2022, 'Active and healthy ageing in urban environments: laying the groundwork for solution-building through citizen science', Health Promotion International, vol. 37, no. 4, daac126, pp. 1-13.

Snowsill, T, Stathi, A, Green, C, Withall, J, Greaves, C, Thompson, J, Taylor, G, Gray, S, Johansen-Berg, H, Bilzon, J, De Koning, J, Boles, J, Moorlock, S, Western, MJ, Guralnik, JM, Rejeski, WJ, Fox, KR & Medina-Lara, A 2022, 'Cost-effectiveness of a physical activity and behaviour maintenance programme on functional mobility decline in older adults: an economic evaluation of the REACT (Retirement in Action) trial', The Lancet Public Health, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. e327-e334.

Cross, R, Greaves, CJ, Withall, J, Rejeski, WJ & Stathi, A 2022, 'Delivery fidelity of the REACT (REtirement in ACTion) physical activity and behaviour maintenance intervention for community dwelling older people with mobility limitations', BMC Public Health, vol. 22, no. 1, 1112 .

Stathi, A, Greaves, C, Thompson, J, Withall, J, Ladlow, P, Taylor, G, Medina-Lara, A, Snowsill, T, Gray, S, Green, C, Johansen-Berg, H, Sexton, C, Bilzon, J, De Koning, J, Bollen, J, Moorlock, S, Western, MJ, Demnitz, N, Seager, P, Guralnik, JM, Rejeski, WJ, Hillsdon, M & Fox, K 2022, 'Effect of a physical activity and behaviour maintenance programme on functional mobility decline in older adults: the REACT (REtirement in ACTion) randomised controlled trial', The Lancet. Public health. S2468-2667(22)00004-4

Demnitz, N, Stathi, A, Withall, J, Stainer, C, Seager, P, De Koning, J, Esser, P, Wassenaar, T, Dawes, H, Brooks, J, Ebmeier, K, Johansen-Berg, H & Sexton, C 2022, 'Hippocampal maintenance after a 12-month physical activity intervention in older adults: The REACT MRI study', NeuroImage: Clinical, vol. 35, 102762.

Wheatley, C, Glogowska, M, Stathi, A, Sexton, C, Johansen-Berg, H & Mackay, C 2021, 'Exploring the public health potential of RED January, a social media campaign supporting physical activity in the community for mental health: a qualitative study', Mental Health and Physical Activity, vol. 21, 100429.

Review article

Sexton, C, Solis, M, Aharon‐peretz, J, Alexopoulos, P, Apostolova, LG, Bayen, E, Birkenhager, B, Cappa, S, Constantinidou, F, Fortea, J, Gerritsen, DL, Hassanin, HI, Ibanez, A, Ioannidis, P, Karageorgiou, E, Korczyn, A, Leroi, I, Lichtwarck, B, Logroscino, G, Lynch, C, Mecocci, P, Molinuevo, JL, Papatriantafyllou, J, Papegeorgiou, S, Politis, A, Raman, R, Ritchie, K, Sanchez‐juan, P, Sano, M, Scarmeas, N, Spiru, L, Stathi, A, Tsolaki, M, Yener, G, Zaganas, I, Zygouris, S & Carrillo, M 2022, 'Alzheimer’s disease research progress in the Mediterranean region: the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference Satellite Symposium', Alzheimer's & Dementia, vol. 18, no. 10, pp. 1957-1968.

Wood, G, Pykett, J, Daw, P, Agyapong-Badu, S, Banchoff, A, King, AC & Stathi, A 2022, 'The role of urban environments in promoting active and healthy aging: a systematic scoping review of citizen science approaches', Journal of Urban Health, vol. 99, no. 3, pp. 427–456.

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