Person standing on scales

Physical activity for health Health effects

We encourage people to move more and sit less because it promotes health and well-being, but many of the health benefits of physical activity and sedentary behaviour are still poorly understood.

Our research aims to provide a better understanding of how and why physical activity and sedentary behaviour improves health, and of the amount, intensity, and type of activity needed for health benefits.

Current research projects

  • Physical activity, sedentary behaviour, obesity and academic achievement - Professor John Reilly
  • Patterns of sedentary behaviour, physical activity and growth across childhood and their influence on later disease outcomes - Dr Adrienne Hughes
  • Obesity, mental health, and lifestyle in adolescents - Professor John Reilly
  • The impact of a body weight and physical activity intervention on adults at risk of developing colorectal adenoma (BeWELL) - Dr Alison Kirk
  • Working together to support active living and well-being (ACTWELL) in health promoting health service. Feasibility trial to reduce breast cancer risk factors - Dr Alison Kirk

Recent research papers

  • Longitudinal changes in objectively measured sedentary behaviour and their relationship with adiposity in children and adolescents: systematic review and evidence appraisal.C Tanaka, JJ Reilly, W Y Huang. Obes Rev, Volume 15 791-803.
  • Obesity impairs academic attainment in adolescence: findings from ALSPAC, a UK cohort. J Booth, C Joinson, J Boyle, SD Leary, PD Tomporowski, AR Ness, JJ Reilly. Int J Obes 2014, In press[J1] .doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.40  
  • Associations between objectively measured physical activity and academic attainment in adolescents from a UK cohort. J Booth, C Joinson, J Boyle, SD Leary, AR Ness, JJ Reilly. Br J Sports Med 2014; 48[J2] :265-270.
  • Anderson A, Craigie AM, Caswell S, Treweek S, Stead M, MacLeod M, Rauchaus P, Daly F, Belch J, Rodger J, Kirk A, Ludbrook A, Wardle J Steel RJ. The impact of a Body Weight and Physical Activity weight loss intervention (BeWEL) initiated through a national colorectal screening programme: a randomised controlled trail. BMJ 2014; 348
  • Hughes AR, Sherriff A, Ness AR, Reilly JJ. Timing of Adiposity Rebound and Adiposity in Adolescence. Pediatrics 2014 (in press)

Research grants

  • Obesity, mental health, and lifestyle in adolescents . Children’s Foundation Newcastle. (2014-2015; £16,364). Reilly (co applicant)
  • Physical activity in children with ADHD and reading difficulties. The Waterloo Foundation (2014-2015, £48,672;). Reilly (co applicant)
  • Working Together to Support Active Living and Well-being (ACTWELL) in Health Promoting Health Service. Feasibility Trial to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk Factors. Scottish Government Chief Scientific Office (2012 – 2014, £290,000) Kirk (co applicant).
  • BeWEL: the impact of a body weight and physical activity intervention on adults at risk of developing colorectal adenoma. Medical Research Council (2010-2013, £1,167,403) Kirk Co applicant) 
  • BUPA Foundation 2011-2013 (£78,150; Reilly PI). Associations between physical activity and cognition in adolescents in ALSPAC