Physical activity plays a key role in increasing health and wellbeing across the human lifespan. This theme may include activity around physiology and nutrition, physical activity and workplace interventions, biomechanics and injury, applied sports psychology and public health and engineering.

Watch Exeter theme lead Associate Professor Jo Bowtell talk about the research expertise and opportunities within the QUEX Institute


  • Exercise and nutrition as medicine: this sub-theme will focus specifically on the application of exercise and nutrition interventions to improve health either by risk reduction or by incorporation into treatment regimens to improve quality of life and retard disease progression, as well as enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of action and pathophysiology. There is world-leading expertise in both institutions in key areas of relevance in integrative physiology (musculoskeletal, vascular, cardiorespiratory, neural), nutrition and metabolism, paediatric science, movement kinetics, kinematics and gait re-training, and motor skill learning. Research in this area will fit with the remit of Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and other medical charities, as well as industry.
  • Biomechanics, motor control and skill acquisition: this sub-theme will focus on musculoskeletal biomechanics as it relates to the study of human motion and the mechanical properties of biological tissues. Applications include, but are not exclusive to, the study of movement in sporting situations, in work environments, in rehabilitation settings and where there are interactions between the nervous system and mechanical properties of the body (neuromechanics). It also includes the field of motor control, which seeks to understand how movement skills are controlled, how they develop and how they are acquired. The field examines issues that relate to both normal skill acquisition, coordination and control, plus how these processes are affected by factors such as injury, disability, disease, disuse and fatigue and involves a combination of approaches from neuroscience and cognitive science. There is significant and complementary expertise in these areas in both institutions and they align with RCUK, ARC, NIHR, as well as military and industry funding, and there is already a track record of successfully attracting such funding at both institutions.
  • Physical activity and behaviour change: this sub-theme will focus on precision measurement of physical activity, epidemiology and behaviour change that could lead to condition specific and personalised prescription for physical activity for disease prevention and treatment. There is world leading and complementary expertise between institutions and real added value from the many opportunities for international comparator work, including access to unique, large longitudinal data sets and exchange of novel methodologies developed in each institution. This theme intersects with the work of the clinical trials unit and multiple funding opportunities would be available for this work.
  • Elite athlete performance: Both institutions have world leading reputations for the application of cutting edge sport physiology, nutrition, biomechanics and psychology to innovate the support of athletes and push the boundaries of human performance. This work has been funded by national sporting associations (e.g. Cricket Australia, Football Assoiciation), professional clubs (e.g. Brisbane Broncos, Exeter Chiefs) and agencies (e.g. Team Sky) and other industry partners across a range of sectors from apparel (e.g. Nike) and footwear (e.g. Asics) to nutrition (e.g. Pepsi Co). There is enormous potential to build and extend this work by pooling complementary expertise, which will attract not only funding but also has the potential to generate considerable media interest and publicity (e.g. Nike Breaking 2).