Female student cycling in the gym on a bike whilst 3 male sports strenght and conditioning students look on

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Sport, Exercise, Health and Wellbeing

Sport, Exercise, Health and Wellbeing (SEHW) is centred on six key areas that encapsulate a wide range of applied research which the University of Gloucestershire engages in regionally, nationally and internationally.

Physical activity and health promotion 

This involves the development of an evidence base of applied practice within the context of health enhancing interventions. For over 15 years the University of Gloucestershire has been involved in undertaking a range of research including large-scale evaluations of health interventions in primary and secondary health care, and in the community including a range of education settings, which have included the use of exercise in planned programmes related to medical recovery and rehabilitation. We have also helped with the cessation of negative health behaviours, such as alcohol or inactivity. This work has included a host of regional, national and European contracts and projects which have helped establish the university as a leading centre for the development of evidence based practice.

Sport and marginalised young people 

This area emphasises community sport development and criminal justice. Within this field the university has been successful in attracting research grants from some of the key organizations and stakeholders such as vInspired and the Laureus Foundation. As an institution we are also engaging and influencing the criminal justice system at a policy level.

Athlete wellbeing and sports performance

This focuses on the role of neuromuscular functioning in the reduction of injury risk and prevention in young athletes, sports nutrition, physiological determinants of performance, assessment and screening of athletes, training interventions, and psychology of performance and injury. There is increasing academic and practitioner interest in these specific research areas and dissemination activities have included presentations at national and international conferences, national and International football clubs and national governing bodies of sport. Clients and collaborators include the European, English and Welsh Football Associations, Barcelona FC, Gloucestershire County Cricket, Bristol Rugby and GB Ice Hockey.

Policy development and practice

This area includes improving welfare in sport, play, health promotion and behaviour change within professional sport. The university’s work in this area has impacted on a number of areas including practice in youth football, health and wellbeing promotion in a range of population groups, public health and psychology. This area of research has led to work in a number of projects in football related areas including referees, parental behaviour and child protection. As a consequence of this, the Football Association has introduced new formats for youth football (e.g. small sided games for younger players, greater emphasis on forms of the sport that promote intrinsic motivations), new competitive structures (more fun, fewer leagues and tournaments) and a greater awareness of inequities created by the relative age effect. Other work includes policy and practice in the area of play policy, and playwork. This has included strategic literature reviews and research output on children’s play which has informed policy in England, Wales and internationally as well as research on the Welsh Government’s Play Sufficiency Duty, which places a statutory duty on local authorities to assess and secure sufficiency of play opportunities for children. In building on these strengths, the area is extending the focus on youth sport participation and development to build links with community development activities, coaching practice and sporting and play cultures and practice communities.

Wellbeing and performance in occupational and ‘real world’ environments

This focuses on health and well-being in occupational and real-world environments. This research includes the following:

  • work on occupational health (e.g. of temporary workers, health care workers),
  • risk in occupational decision-making (e.g. fire ground, medical, educational, military contexts),
  • forensic psychology (e.g. victims of sexual crimes),
  • sport and performance psychology (e.g., visual attention, resilience and performance under pressure in various achievement contexts including sport, business, military, and surgery),
  • functional physiology (e.g. using exercise to reduce syncope in diseased populations)
  • the effects of regular singing on health and wellbeing, with a particular focus on respiration
  • the efficacy of drama interventions for the development of social and emotional intelligence in educational and social environments for vulnerable children (to include specific research with children with trauma to facilitate social skills and resilience).
  • research on the neuroscience of well-being in such contexts using EEG technology to examine brain processing in adults and children
  • health and wellbeing of university students including academic achievement, nutrition, smoking, alcohol consumption, illicit drug use, stress and health complaints
  • organisational-specific mindfulness training as a component in professional and corporate well-being programmes.

Clinical health and wellbeing 

This area includes clinical, counselling and physiological projects on physical and mental health. From a psychological perspective, research includes topics such as mindfulness, fear, anxiety, empathy, autism, health education, adolescent psychology issues (e.g. in diabetes regimens) and using poetry in dementia treatment. This encompasses research and scholarship on the theoretical aspects of psychology with regard to wellbeing such as the nature-nurture debate, neuroscience, the impact of mindfulness, in additional to understanding the concept of well-being in clinical areas, such as in schizophrenia, learning difficulties. The physiological aspect of this area encompasses cardiovascular and respiratory research including physiological and psychological assessment with healthy and diseased populations including those with respiratory disease, obesity and other health restricting conditions.  This area also includes some interdisciplinary research regarding health and wellbeing in maternal and perinatal health, metabolic syndrome and hearing loss, as well as sexual functioning in people living with epilepsy.