Manchester Metropolitan University

Health, Exercise and Active Living Research Centre

The Centre comprises three groups of prolific researchers with a sustained history of research aligned with Health, Sport and Exercise Science. Our research is innovative and applied. It is aligned closely with the learning and teaching provision in Exercise and Sport Science.

Our research is funded by: charities (e.g., British Swimming and UK Sport); Research Councils (e.g., BBSRC, NIHR); and industry partners (e.g., GlaxoSmithKline, GenNutrition, BodyTypeNutrition, the FA, and several national governing bodies for sport and UK sport institutes); and EU funding streams such as MOVEAGE. We also have strong links with the NHS (in particular at Leighton Hospital and the Movement Centre, Oswestry) and international funding bodies (e.g., Australia, Brazil, France).

The Centre contributed significantly to world class research in the 2014 REF exercise, our Allied Health Professions power ranking of 12/94 placed us top of the new universities.

The nature of the Centre means that interdisciplinarity is pivotal to our approach. For example, biomechanists and physiologists collaborate on projects including the specification of optimal mouthguard designs and physiologists work alongside psychologists to determine markers of healthy ageing, whilst our Motor Cognition researchers collaborate with clinicians to develop technology dependent and independent rehabilitation interventions. 

Please feel free to contact any of our staff to discuss their research or to make enquiries about research opportunities. We welcome submission of research ideas and project proposals leading to MSc, MPhil and PhD degrees relevant to professional practice in health, exercise and active living. Please see the link to current funding and research opportunities.


Research groups

Physiology of Ageing, Exercise & Sport (PASE) – lead: Dr Alun Williams

Our research pursues the study of human physiological function during exercise and in response to stressors such as training, loading, overuse, sedentarism and ageing.

We apply imaging techniques, functional assessments in vivo, materials investigation, endocrine profiling and molecular genetic techniques to study properties of muscle, tendon and bone.

We have strong links within the wider MMU Health Research community. We also have ongoing activities with external clinical partners, equipment manufacturers and competitive sporting organisations. 

Current Themes

  • Neuromusculotendinous mechanics and function in specific populations
  • Molecular risk factors for exercise-related injury and illness
  • Genomics of exercise ability and performance
  • Physiotherapeutic interventions in neuromusculoskeletal medicine
  • Nutritional and exercise interventions to improve function during ageing

Research areas and contacts

Design and validation of physiotherapy protocols
Dr Islay McEwan & Dr Sandra Lewis

Neuromuscular research in clinical conditions
Dr Chris Morse, Dr Philip Hennis & Dr Emma Bostock

Dr Alun Williams & Dr Georgina Stebbings

Hypoactivity- and ageing-induced sarcopenia
Dr Gladys Pearson & Dr David Tomlinson

Motor Cognition – lead: Dr David Wright

Our research impacts at many levels of human performance in the sport and clinical domains.

Broad in scope, our nationally- and internationally-renowned research ranges from laboratory-based work examining the use of video and motor imagery to support skill learning to work in the stroke community developing therapeutic interventions to support motor (re)learning.

Our interdisciplinary work has roots in psychology and neuroscience and we employ a range of methodological tools including transcranial magnetic stimulation, electroencephalography, eye gaze registration, computational modelling, motion tracking and clinical assessment.

Current themes

  • Attention and decision making in simulated (re)learning
  • The mechanisms and efficacy of simulated (re)learning
  • Cognitive biases in the perception of chronic pain
  • Psychological issues in bodybuilding and strength training (including exercise dependence, muscle dysmorphia, steroid use and low back pain) 

Research areas and contacts

Attention and decision making in simulated (re)learning
Prof Paul Holmes, Dr Zoe Franklin & Dr Chesney Craig

Corticospinal excitability during action observation and imagery
Dr David Wright & Dr Greg Wood

Application of imagery and observation interventions to psychomotor skills in nursing
Dr Dave Smith

Biomechanics of Injury & Performance – lead: Dr Carl Payton

The vision of this team is to maintain a reputation as an internationally renowned Research group within the area of applied Biomechanics.

Current themes

  • Biomechanics of disabled swimmers
  • Applied exercise & sports biomechanics

Research areas and contacts

Biomechanics of Disabled Swimmers
Dr Carl Payton, Dr Hannah Jarvis & Dr Ine Van Caekenberghe

Applied Exercise & Sports Biomechanics
Dr Adrian Burden, Mr Gallin Montgomery & Mr Richard Mills 

Research Centre Contact

Dr Gladys Pearson
Head of Health Exercise & Active Living Research Centre
Tel:0161 247 5594

Research and Knowledge Exchange