The Physical Activity in Ageing, Rehabilitation and Health Research Group
at Aberystwyth University has designed, implemented and evaluated rural
Community Exercise Schemes (CESs), including GP referral of sub-clinical
populations, and more specialised schemes, such as cardiac rehabilitation
and falls prevention. This research has made a distinct and material
contribution to the provision of CESs in the region by providing evidence
to inform service planning and delivery, increase access to and engagement
with services, improve health and influence professional standards,
guidelines and training.
Prof Doherty's research is themed around `safe and effective exercise for
patients with complex cardiac disease' where, until his leading research
had been carried out, thousands of patients were denied access to such
services. Prof Doherty implemented the first prospective randomised
control trial (RCT) in this population which has: benefitted patients
directly by enabling more programmes to offer rehabilitation to this group
of patients; impacted on clinical guidance nationally and internationally;
contributed to Department of Health policy; and influenced the public and
clinical populations through the NHS, British Heart Foundation, Arrhythmia
Alliance and professional clinical groups.
This research into the effective management of exertion intensity,
symptoms and pain in the treatment of cardiovascular and neuromuscular
diseases has resulted in the setting of national and international
standards for safe and effective education, training and professional
Physical activity forms a core component in the prevention and
rehabilitation of cardiovascular disease and in genetically acquired
neuromuscular disorders. Physical activity benefits are linked to the
volume — frequency, intensity and duration — of participation, which will
bring about physiological and/or psychosocial improvements.
Smith's research in Exercise Science focuses on exercise adherence and
health enhancing physical activity (HEPA). Doherty's research looks at
`safe and effective exercise for patients with complex cardiac disease'
and implemented the first prospective Randomised Control Trial in this
population. Smith and Doherty have collaborated on an RCT, on `Active
York' and on a successful proposal to the BHF. Smith's work has had an
impact on practitioners and professional services by shaping regulatory
frameworks for `exercise on prescription' schemes. In health, Doherty's
research has benefitted patients directly by enabling hundreds of
programmes to offer rehabilitation to patients with complex cardiac
disease and has impacted on national and international practice.
Research undertaken at the Centre for Physical Activity and Health
Research within the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute has
directly contributed to changes in public policy surrounding the health
benefits of exercise and has informed the development of international and
national physical activity guidelines.
High intensity training: Impact can be evidenced on multiple levels
ranging from adding to the
public debate on exercise duration and providing information to the sports
industry. This includes
publication of the findings/applied recommendations of this research in
lay magazines (e.g. Men's
Health), books (e.g. The High Intensity Workout Dundee University Press
2012) and television
shows (e.g. Horizon). In addition, the research has informed coaches (ice
hockey and rugby union)
and people working in the fitness industry (personnel trainers), and has
contributed to the debate
on exercise for health (Scottish Government).
It is widely acknowledged that increasing physical activity (PA) levels
within `hard-to-reach' groups
is challenging. Researchers in the School have addressed these challenges
resulting in impacts in
two recognized `hard-to-reach' groups: ethnic minority communities and
patients who are at risk of
disease onset and/or are suffering from diminished quality of
life/disability due to chronic disease.
In the former, our research has demonstrated how to make PA accessible and
appropriate; in the
latter, in addition, we have increased physical activity levels. In both
examples, our research has
changed professional training and/or standards.
The term `Green Exercise' was first coined at the University of Essex to
describe physical activity undertaken in `green' surroundings. Essex
research demonstrates and quantifies the associated benefits to health and
well-being. This research has stimulated changes to the policies and
practices of health and environmental organisations, and has also been
used in the private sector to support a consumer engagement campaign. Most
notably, the mental health charity Mind used the findings of Essex
research as part of a successful Big Lottery bid. This led to Ecominds,
a £7.5M, 5 year programme supporting 130 environmental projects
nationwide, which have improved the mental health of participants via
green activity engagement.
The Human Performance Research Group at Aberystwyth University developed
a novel high- intensity "warm-up" regime, known as "priming exercise".
Performing this type of exercise can provide an ergogenic effect during
subsequent exercise or competition. This research has impacted upon
professional practice of sports scientists and coaches tasked with
preparing elite athletes for competition. Specifically, previously warm-up
exercise was performed prior to exercise, whereas now many practitioners
apply priming exercise regimes. In addition, this practice has a direct
impact upon the performance of both elite and amateur athletes.
In this case study we describe an interrelated collection of impacts
on healthcare in the NHS; these are summarised in the Table below.