Professor Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten MSc, PhD

Dr Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Senior Lecturer in Biological Psychology
Director of Graduate Research, College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Contact details

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

Professor Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten’s interdisciplinary research focusses on the influence of behaviour on psychological and physiological health and wellbeing in various populations, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, older adults, and young people.  


  • MSc in Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • MSc in Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK


Jet’s research involves detailed assessments of the effects of physical activity behaviour on psychological and physiological health.  She uses these findings to develop behavioural interventions aimed at enhancing the overall health of different populations, including people with rheumatoid arthritis, older adults, and young people.  


Jet is the module organiser of the third year module ‘Exercise as Medicine’ and contributes to the first year module ‘Sport, Exercise, and Health Psychology’. 

Postgraduate supervision

Jet currently supervises nine postgraduate research students exploring the links between behaviour and physical and psychological health in different populations (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, older adults, young people).  Her PhD students have won many prestigious awards, such as young investigator awards at conferences (American Psychosomatic Society), award for best abstract in clinical science (European League against Rheumatism), best publication award (Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust), winner of the poster award of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences (University of Birmingham Graduate School Research Day), and Achievement Award (Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia Cultural Bureau).

Jet welcomes PhD applications from potential postgraduate research students with interests aligned with her research activities. 


Jet’s research investigates the associations between behavior and psychological as well as physical health. 

A specific interest concerns the investigation of the impact of physical activity on health in people who experience barriers to physical activity.  She focuses on populations where characteristics of the populations are barriers to physical activity. For example,

  • in rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis disease-related symptoms (e.g., pain and fatigue) are common barriers to physical activity,
  • in older adults an age-related decline in mobility and strength can be a barrier to be physically active for older adults,
  • in adolescents the many maturity-related physical changes and psychological challenges can negatively impact physical activity.

Another area of interest concerns the investigation of the impact of behaviours on the negative impact of stress on psychological health (e.g., fatigue, depression) and physiological health (e.g. cardiovascular activity, inflammation).

Throughout her interdisciplinary research, Jet takes full advantage of her background in both physiology and psychology by investigating the interactions between psychological and physical health. 

Other activities

She is an invited reviewer for psychophysiological, behavioural medicine and arthritis related journals.


Selection of recent publications: 

Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS, Fenton SAM, Rouse PC, Ntoumanis N, Osailan A, Yu C-A, Metsios GS, Kitas GD, Duda JL. Autonomous motivation, cardiorespiratory fitness, and exercise in rheumatoid arthritis: randomised controlled trial. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. In press.  

Brady SM, Fenton SAM, Metsios GS, Bosworth A, Duda JL, Kitas GD, Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS. Different types of physical activity are positively associated with indicators of mental health and psychological wellbeing in rheumatoid arthritis during COVID‑19. Rheumatology International (2021) 41:335–344 

Baynham R, Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS, Johns PW, Pham QS, Rendeiro C. Cocoa Flavanols Improve Vascular Responses to Acute Mental Stress in Young Healthy Adults. Nutrients 2021, 13, 1103.

Wright LJ, Williams SE, Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS.  Physical Activity Protects Against the Negative Impact of Coronavirus Fear on Adolescent Mental Health and Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Front. Psychol. 2021, 12:580511. 

O’Brien CM, Ntoumanis N, Duda JL, Kitas GD, Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS, Metsios GS, Fenton SAM. Pain and fatigue are longitudinally and bi-directionally associated with more sedentary time and less standing time in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford) (2021). Online ahead of print,

Fenton SAM, Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS, Metsios GS, Rouse PC, Yu C-A, Ntoumanis N, Kitas GD, Duda JL. Testing a self-determination theory-based process model of physical activity behavior change in rheumatoid arthritis: results of a randomized controlled trial. Translational Behavioural Medicine, 2021;11:369–380. 

Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS, Douglas MR, Ntoumanis N. Fatigue and fluctuations in physical and psychological wellbeing in people with multiple sclerosis: A longitudinal study.  Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders 47 (2021) 102602. 

Williams SE, Quinton ML, Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS, Davies J, Möller C, Trotman GP, Ginty AT. Mastery Imagery Ability Is AssociatedWith Positive Anxiety andPerformance During PsychologicalStress. Front. Psychol. 2021, 12:568580. 

Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS, Fenton SAM, Brady S, Metsios GS, Duda JL, Kitas GD. Mental Health and Psychological Wellbeing in Rheumatoid Arthritis during COVID-19 – Can Physical Activity Help? Mediterr J Rheumatol 2020;31(Suppl 2):284-7.   

Metsios GS, Moe RH, van der Esch M, Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS, Fenton SAM, Koutedakis Y, Vitalis P, · Kennedy N, Brodin N, Bostrom C, Swinnen TW, Tzika K, Niedermann K, Nikiphorou E, Fragoulis GE, Vlieland · TPVM, Van den Ende CHM, Kitas GD, The IMPACT-RMD Consortium. The effects of exercise on cardiovascular disease risk factors and cardiovascular physiology in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology International (2020) 40:347–357.

Kasim NF, Veldhuijzen van Zanten JJCS, Aldred S. Tai Chi is an effective form of exercise to reduce markers of frailty in older age. Experimental Gerontology 2020, 135, 110925.

View all publications in research portal