Skip to main content

Physical Activity

Yoga class

As a Challenge Academy cross-cutting theme we focus on generating and evaluating evidence for policy and practice concerning physical activity. Across the lifespan and in wide-ranging geographies we work together with our public health, public sector and community partners (present and future) to advance understanding of the positioning of physical activity in driving a healthier and fairer society. As such, we work with marginalised communities in particular, using this knowledge to reduce longstanding health inequalities. As an example, our briefing paper Physical Activity Referral Systems: Supporting inclusive practices to reduce health inequalities, explains further how we can achieve this.

We have inter-disciplinary expertise to address complex questions from a variety of perspectives, for example via quantitative and mixed methods, ethnographic methods, and different evaluation frameworks. We will work across the Challenge Academies and continue to impact through policy change (local to global). Examples of our work to date can be found below.

Policy involvement:


· Oliver, E.J.; Dodd-Reynolds, C.; Kasim, A.; Vallis, D. Inequalities and Inclusion in Exercise Referral Schemes: A Mixed-Method Multi-Scheme Analysis. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 3033. https://

· Hanson, Coral L., Oliver, Emily J., Dodd-Reynolds, Caroline J., Pearsons, Alice & Kelly, Paul (2020). A modified Delphi study to gain consensus for a taxonomy to report and classify physical activity referral schemes (PARS). International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 17(1): 158.

· Rigby, B.P., van der Graaf, P., Azevedo, L.B., Hayes, L., Gardner, B. & Dodd-Reynolds, C.J. (2020). Challenges, opportunities and solutions for local physical activity stakeholders: an implementation case study from a cross-sectoral physical activity network in Northeast England. BMC Public Health 20: 1760. · Rigby, BP, Dodd-Reynolds, CJ & Oliver, EJ (2020). Inequities and inequalities in outdoor walking groups: a scoping review. Public Health Reviews 41: 4.

· Chapman, P., Lindsey, I. , Dodd-Reynolds, C. , Oliver, E. & Summerbell, C. (2020). Targeting childhood obesity through primary schools: reviewing alignment amongst English policies for physical activity and healthy eating. Child and Adolescent Obesity 3(1): 20-41.

· Dodd-Reynolds, CJ, Vallis, D, Kasim, A, Akhter, N & Hanson, C (2020). The Northumberland Exercise Referral Scheme as a universal community weight management programme: a mixed methods exploration of outcomes, expectations and experiences across a social gradient. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(15): 5297.

· Hanson, CL, Oliver, EJ, Dodd-Reynolds, CJ & Kelly, P (2020). We are failing to improve the evidence base for “Exercise Referral” How a Physical Activity Referral Scheme Taxonomy can help. British Journal of Sports Medicine 54(12): 696-697.

· Pollard, TM, Guell, C & Morris, SL (2020). Communal therapeutic mobility in group walking: a meta-ethnography. Social Science and Medicine 262: 113241.

· Tupper, E, Atkinson, S & Pollard, TM (2020). Doing more with movement: constituting healthy publics in a movement volunteering programme. Palgrave Communications 6: 94.

· Wagnild, JM & Pollard, TM (2020). “Sit yourself down” women’s experiences of negotiating physical activity during pregnancy. Qualitative Health Research 30(7): 1072-1082.

·Wagnild, JM & Pollard, TM (2020). Associations Between Television Time and activPAL-Measured Duration and Pattern of Sedentary Time Among Pregnant Women at Risk of Gestational Diabetes in the UK. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 17(4): 471-474.

· Beasley, JM, Wagnild, JM , Pollard, TM, Roberts, TR & Akhter, N (2020). Effectiveness of diet and physical activity interventions among Chinese-origin populations living in high income countries: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 20: 1019.