Centre for Active Lifestyles

We address factors underpinning (in)activity, aiming to improve community and/or service provision. Our experimental work addresses how the body (including cognition and executive function) responds to physical activity (PA) and exercise. Our community work challenges taken-for-granted assumptions that any PA provision will ensure more people become more active.

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We are responding to the societal need to better understand and deliver PA to improve Public Health and reduce longstanding social inequalities. 

research themes

The Centre addresses two main themes;

  • Identifying and improving community and/or service-based PA provision and
  • Establishing physiological and biochemical responses and adaptations to exercise and PA (SARCA)

We focus on daily-life PA and structured exercise. Our focus is on ‘under-reached’ communities. This makes it especially relevant to contemporary public services, especially Public Health, Social Services and Education. Our academics draw on a range of areas – from Psychology to Physiology - to deliver insights. We offer a distinctive, innovative and effective approach to designing, delivering and evaluating tailor-made programmes.

Our approach is highly translational. We blend the best of science with best practice. This create a ‘best fit’ for potential users. Our approach supports individuals, groups and whole communities to become more physically active.

research groups

Improving community and service-based physical activity provision

Our distinctive perspectives on promoting lifestyle change allow us to create tailor-made approaches. These activate the adaptive capacities of individuals, groups and services. We aim to identify and then modify the underlying causes of under-activity. Then, using innovative methods, our approaches activate the most powerful influences on day-to-day behaviour. Our methodologies produce effective, context-specific interventions.

Here are some of our current projects:

  • Active lessons in schools
  • Community PA based on iconic sports events
  • Evaluation of the Calderdale Local Delivery Pilot
  • Whole systems approaches to PA promotion in Leeds

research Groups

SARCA: Skeletal Muscle Health, Arthritis and Cardiovascular Health

SARCA consists of three interdisciplinary special interest research groups that collaborate to achieve two key objectives; firstly, to promote skeletal muscle and cardio-metabolic health across the lifespan, and secondly, to investigate the therapeutic utility of exercise, physical activity and nutritional interventions for associated non-communicable diseases. 


Professor James McKenna

Professor of Sport / Carnegie School Of Sport

A professor of Physical Activity and Health, Jim studies behaviour change at a range of levels; individual, social and whole community. He is Director of the Active Lifestyles research centre in the School of Sport.

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the graduate school

If research is your thing, then you’re in the right place. We have a growing research profile within our region as well as nationally and internationally. If you decide to study for a research degree with us you'll join a thriving academic community in an inspiring and supportive environment.

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