Post 7. Dark days….but sunny horizons

December 2022 brought me the diagnosis of head and neck cancer after I’d discovered a lump in my neck in October. I’d had various scans and a biopsy by that point so was bracing myself for the worst, but nothing prepares you for THAT news (although the number of nurses and support staff who were crammed into the consultant’s office was a pretty strong clue). That day was the start of a roller coaster journey which thankfully has reached a happy destination about 7 months later.  The timeline moved quickly and within a month I had a 6 hour operation Read More

Post 6. Some reflections on…conferences

The spring and summer months are often referred to as the ‘conference season’ among academics as this time of year generally coincides with fewer teaching-related commitments and (for those fortunate enough to have funds), the opportunity to present work at conferences. In the broad discipline areas aligned to physical activity, exercise and health there’s a lot of conferences to choose from to present research, to meet new and existing colleagues and collaborators, and to see what others in the field are doing. In June I was fortunate enough to attend a few very different conferences, symposia, and research presentations. The Read More

Post 5. A few reflections on sharing and discussing research

Earlier this week I spent an enjoyable day at Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Sport. I gave a workshop on using contemporary methods of processing and analysing accelerometer data, which was followed by a whistle-stop introduction to processing accelerometer data using the GGIR R package. Both presentations can be viewed as movie files here and here (around 5 minutes duration each). Following on from this I gave a seminar to staff and PGR students on the importance of partnership working in school-based physical activity intervention research. The talk used examples of my own experiences in West Lancashire and highlighted Read More

Post 4. Measuring children’s physical activity using accelerometers – overview

Anyone involved in physical activity (PA) and health research knows that actually measuring children’s PA is fraught with challenges, such is the complexity of this behaviour. Kids routinely switch their activity behaviours throughout the day, depending on their routines, social interactions, physical environments, and even the weather! Throughout a typical day kids will accumulate time through the full intensity spectrum from being sedentary, in light, moderate, and vigorous PA. Getting an accurate measurement of these behaviours is difficult, and really researchers only end up with ‘estimates’ of PA behaviours and time spent in the different intensities, rather than precise values. Read More

Post 3. Children’s self-reported physical activity data – weighing up the evidence

In the last few weeks much has been made of the physical activity levels of children and adolescents in England. In late November, as part of the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance Global Matrix 3.0, the Active Healthy Kids England 2018 Report Card was published. The Report Card, which is led by Professor Martyn Standage (@Martyn_Standage) and colleagues builds on the 2014 and 2016 versions to provide an update on performances on, the provision for, and support for physical activity opportunities for children and young people. Using nationally representative self-report survey (questionnaire) data, it demonstrated that 23% of boys and Read More

Post 2. A bad news week, but still seeing and valuing the wins

As research active academics two of the most significant and valued things we are judged on, are peer-reviewed research outputs and external research grant income. Both of these are products of many months (often years) of work, not to the mention the time taken to actually craft and write the respective submissions. Once we complete the papers/applications we send them off for review by expert peers in our field and to a large extent, the outcome is out of our hands. As one collaborator described it to me yesterday when referring to the outcome of grant applications, “it’s a lottery”. Read More

Post 1. Reflections on the novice research of a PhD student (circa 2002). What’s its worth?

Yesterday I was tagged on Twitter by Dr Ashley Casey from Loughborough University (@DrAshCasey). As part of his excellent PEPRN blog post series he’d written a commentary of paper of mine that was published in 2002, entitled ‘The contribution of secondary school physical education to lifetime physical activity’. The paper was actually my first PhD study and was based on a mailshot survey of secondary school Heads of PE in northwest England. The general gist was that PE curricular and extra-curricular provision were based predominantly on traditional team games, which didn’t reflect post-school adult physical activity preferences. As such, the Read More