Part of Victoria University's Healthy and Inclusive Communities Research Program, the Movement for Healthy Bodies and Minds research program examines physical activity and its effect on wellbeing at the individual and community level.

Our diverse research projects are undertaken by these two focus groups:

  • Active Living and Public Health
  • Physical Activity and Mental Health

Active Living & Public Health

The Active Living and Public Health research group investigates factors that affect participation in physical activity, including:

  • prevalence, trends, correlates and determinants of physical activity and sedentary behaviour
  • population-level outcomes of physical activity and sedentary behaviour
  • effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour
  • measures and methods for assessment and population surveillance of physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

Our research has broad applications for public policy, community facility development, and improving the health and overall life-quality of population. We make important contributions in the following ways:

  • increasing the understanding of public-health aspects of physical activity and sedentary behaviour
  • designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions to promote active living.

We are guided by these models for investigation:

  • Activity Balance Model – as a framework for epidemiological investigation of health outcomes of physical activity and sedentary behaviour, considered as integrative parts of the time-use composition
  • Behaviour Change Wheel – as a framework for characterising and designing physical activity and sedentary behaviour interventions
  • Social Ecological Model  – as a framework for investigating individual, social, environmental, and policy factors affecting physical activity and sedentary behaviour of communities and populations

Staff

Research students

  • Matthew Bourke
  • Vaska Dervisovski
  • Jayasekara Kankanamalage Rashmin Apsara Ranatunge
  • Kathryn McDonald
  • Raja Ram Dhungana
  • Catherine Saulson

Physical Activity & Mental Health

The Physical Activity and Mental Health research group examines the role of physical activity and exercise in mental health promotion, prevention and treatment. We engage in projects that aim to measure, understand, and promote physical activity to optimise mental wellbeing.

We aim to maximise the potential of physical activity in achieving better clinical outcomes and improved functioning and wellbeing in those at risk of, or experiencing, mental health concerns. We have multidisciplinary expertise in the following areas:

  • behaviour change
  • education
  • epidemiology
  • evidence-based practice
  • health promotion
  • measurement
  • psychology
  • public health
  • translation and implementation.

Our research covers a range of topics, including:

  • Effectiveness of exercise and physical activity interventions in promoting mental health and wellbeing and preventing mental illness
  • Effectiveness of physical activity and exercise interventions in the prevention and treatment of secondary physical health problems associated with mental illness
  • Effectiveness of physical activity and exercise interventions in the prevention and treatment of secondary mental health problems associated with poor physical health and/or chronic disease
  • Effect of physical activity on the immune system, inflammatory biomarkers and immune cell functionality
  • Prevalence, trends, correlates and determinants of physical activity among people with mental health problems and in mental health settings
  • Assessing and addressing the barriers and facilitators to engaging in physical activity for mental health at individual, group/family, community, service provider, service delivery and government levels.

Alex Parker, Professor of Physical Activity and Mental Health

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