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Health and Wellbeing


Sport and physical activity has been shown to have enormous benefits for our physical and mental well-being. Researchers in this theme develop understanding of the impacts of physical activity, and how to promote it, in a wide range of settings and populations. These include workplace settings, amongst individuals with heart problems, and amongst recent amputees, with people with intellectual disabilities and in children. In addition, research has also explored the physical, neurological and psychological benefits of non-sporting physical activity such as drumming. Two recent, EU funded projects explore the impact of Men’s Sheds on health behaviours and the sexual health of over 45’s.

For enquiries concerned with Health and Well-Being Research please contact Dr Melissa Day (m.day@chi.ac.uk) or Dr Marcus Smith (m.smith@chi.ac.uk)


For the past 20 years pioneering work has taken place at the University of Chichester exploring the physiological demands of drumming (Smith, 2002) and the use of drumming as an intervention to improve mental and physical well-being (e.g., Bruchhage et al., 2020).

Fatigue erodes skill and for the drummer this may be experienced during a single performance (e.g. Glastonbury Festival) or over multiple performances (e.g. Blondie’s ‘No Exit’ World Tour). Research has demonstrated the intermittent nature of drumming, with maximum heart rate (Smith, 2008), significant energy expenditure (De la Rue, 2013) and high sweat rate (Smith, 2013) values being recorded.

The learning of a new skill requires the brain to adapt in terms of its structure and function. Research collaborations between the University of Chichester and colleagues at the Clem Burke Drumming Project (www.clemburkedrummingproject.org) have demonstrated drumming to be a potent stimulus for brain plasticity (Amad et al., 2017). Observed changes relate to the requirement of having to co-ordinate multiple limbs from the upper/lower and left/right side of the body (Bruchahhe et al., 2020). Enhanced connectivity between different brain regions is of particular interest to those working in autism and may help explain our previous findings showing positive changes in behaviour among primary school children following drumming practice (Lowry et al., 2019).

We are interested in expanding our work in autism and commencing studies exploring the effect of drumming practice in ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and dementia.

Interested in finding out more about this research area or getting involved in our research projects? Please email Marcus Smith (m.smith@chi.ac.uk).


Amad, A., Seidman, J., Draper, S.B., Bruchhage, M.K., Lowry, R.G., Wheeler, J., Robertson, A., Williams, S.C.R. and Smith, M.S. (2017). Motor Learning Induces Plasticity in the Resting Brain – Drumming up a connection. Cerebral Cortex, 27 (3), 2010-2021.

Bruchhage, M.K., Amad, A., Draper, S.B., Seidman, J., Lacerda, L., Laguna, P.L., Lowry, R.G., Wheeler, J., Robertson, A., Dell’Acqua, F., Smith, M.S. and Williams, S.C.R. (2020). Drum training induces long term plasticity in the cerebellum and connected cortical thickness. Scientific Reports, 10 (1), article number 10116.

De La Rue, S.E., Draper, S.B., Potter C.R. and Smith M.S. (2013). Energy Expenditure in Rock/Pop Drumming. International Journal of Sports Medicine,  34 (10): 868-72.  

Lowry, R. G., Hale, B., Draper, S. and Smith, M. (2019). Rock drumming enhances motor and psychosocial skills of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties.  International Journal of Developmental Difficulties, 65 (3), 152-161.

Smith, M.S. (2002). Physiological Analysis of Clem Burke during Blondie’s ‘No Exit’ World Tour. In Blondie, From Punk to the Present: A Pictorial History. Editor: Metz, A. Music Legacy Publications, 429-431.

Smith M.S., Burke C., Draper S.B. and Potter C. (2008). Physiological demands of rock drumming – case study. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26: 1, S115-116.

Smith M.S. and Draper S.B. (2013). Effects of a hot and humid environment on drumming performance – a case study’. Proceedings of the European College of Sport Science, Barcelona, 459.

Promoting Health and Wellbeing in Older and Midlife Adults

As populations age, it is vital to promote healthy behaviour change in order to help combat the natural decline of health and wellbeing. Researchers within the Institute of Sport explore ways in which older and midlife adults can maintain and enhance their physical and mental health.

Our researchers have examined the effects of eccentric endurance exercise, in the form of downhill treadmill walking, as an exercise modality to improve functional capacity of older adults, as well as the use of self-selected exercise intensity. In addition, we explored the development of a simple public health message, using metabolic equivalents of one-mile walking, with an aim encourage older adults to be more active.

Our researchers have also been involved in two EU-funded projects which aim to improve different aspects of health and wellbeing for middle-aged and older adults in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium and France. The Step-by-Step (SBS) project (https://www.interreg2seas.eu/en/sbs) aims to empower men to move from poor health and/or isolation to healthy social participation or active engagement in the labour market, through a new co-created delivery model for Community Men’s Sheds. The target group for SBS is specifically men, in particular those who may be socially isolated and suffering from poor mental health or wellbeing. Sexual Health in the Over 45s (SHIFT; https://www.interreg2seas.eu/en/shift) aims to empower people aged over 45 to participate in sexual health services and improve their sexual health and wellbeing. This project will see the development of an intervention to improve sexual health, wellbeing and awareness, specifically targeting over 45s who are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage. The evaluation of both the SBS and SHIFT interventions are being led by research teams from the Institute of Sport and Department of Psychology and Counselling at the University of Chichester.

For more information about SBS, you can contact the team on sbsproject@chi.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter for the latest updates @SBS_Project_Chi. To keep up with progress on the SHIFT project, follow us on Twitter @ChichesterShift or contact the team at shiftproject@chi.ac.uk.

Key publications & presentations

Gault, M.L., & Willems, M.E.T. (2017). The metabolic equivalents of 1-mile walking by older adults; implications for health promotion. Health Promotion Perspectives 7(4), 216-222.

Gault, M.L., & Willems, M.E.T. (2014) Walking and aerobic capacity in old adults after concentric and eccentric endurance exercise at self-selected intensities. Health, 6:654-663.

Gault, M.L., Clements, R.E., & Willems, M.E.T. (2012). Functional mobility of older adults after concentric and eccentric endurance exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 112(11): 3699-707.

Greenlees, I.A., Webb, H., Hall, B., & Manley, A. (2007). Curmudgeon or golden-ager: Reported exercise participation influences the perception of older adults. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 29, 333-347.

Lowry, R. G., Burkitt, E., Edmunds, S., & Farina, N. (December 2018).  Men in the company of men: A scoping review of the effectiveness of Men’s Sheds.  Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology, Belfast, Northern Ireland. http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/4655/

Lowry, R. G., Wood, A., Lefever, O. & Tollet, C. (June, 2019).   Intervening in the community to increase the health, wellbeing, social inclusion and employability of Men:  Step by Step Project Protocol and Logic Model. International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Prague, Czech Republic.  http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/4690/

Wood, A., Heaney, C., Sitch, M., Hooper, S., & Lowry, R. G. (September 2019) More than a tool shed:  Piloting a multi-level, multi-method evaluation of the Step-By-Step Project. Public Health England, Warwick, UK.

Key staff

  • Andy Wood  
  • Tess Hartland
  • Professor Mike Lauder
  • Katherine Bellinger
  • Dr Melissa Day
  • Dr Henriette Hogh
  • Professor Mark Willems
  • Dr Mandy Gault

Collaborating partners

  • Dr Ruth Lowry (University of Essex, SBS and SHIFT project lead?)
  • Dr Ian Tyndall (UoC, Institute of Education, Health and Social Sciences)
  • Dr Moitree Banerjee (UoC, Institute of Education, Health and Social Sciences)
  • Dr Sue Churchill (UoC, Institute of Education, Health and Social Sciences)
  • Dr Antonina Pereira (UoC, Institute of Education, Health and Social Sciences
  • Dr Ian Tyndall ((UoC, Institute of Education, Health and Social Sciences)

For more information on the Psychology and Counselling research that takes place at the University of Chichester please see: https://www.chi.ac.uk/research/psychology-and-counselling-research

Children’s experiences of health and wellbeing


Sport and physical activity has long been considered to be a powerful factor in promoting childhood health and well-being. Our researchers are interested in how and when physical activity, sport and physical education experiences can promote such well-being changes and how we can better promote health and well-being through physical activity.

Two key strands can be seen in our research activity. First, we examine the factors that influence a child’s experience of physical activity (whether through formal coaching, teaching or play). In particular we examine how sociocultural factors (class, power dynamics, culture) shape the experience and impact of being physical active. In this line of research, we are particularly keen on exploring research methods (e.g., drawing, photography) that allow us to more fully access the child’s voice and subjective experiences. Second, our research examines the potential short and long-term health benefits of physical activity in children. In this strand, we have explored the efficacy of schemes such as the daily mile on physical activity participation, attitudes to physical activity and physical fitness. We have also evaluated exercise schemes designed to promote activity within obese populations.

Interested in finding out more about this research area or getting involved in our research projects? Please email Suzanne Everley (s.everley@chi.ac.uk).

Key Publications

Everley, S. (In press) ‘Physical Literacy and the development of Girls’ Leadership: An Evaluation of the FA’s Active Literacy Through Storytelling Programme’ Education 3-13.

Everley, S. (2019 ) ‘Using visual research tools when working tools with children in a primary school setting’, Chapter 5, pp55-70,  in Researching Difference in Sport and Physical Activity,  Medcalfe, R. and Mackintosh, C. (Eds) Routledge.

Everley, S. (2020) The Child Protection in Sport Unit - Supporting National Governing Bodies in Hearing the Voices of Children: An Evaluation of Current Practice. Child Abuse Review, 29 (2). 114-129. ISSN 0952-9136

Everley, S. (2019) ‘Understanding Gendered Physical Activity of Children: Challenging binaried representation in school based research’  Education 3-13, 48:2,  226-238. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004279.2019.1605399

Everley, S. and Everley, K. (2018) Primary School Children’s Experiences of Physical Activity: The place of social and cultural capital in participation and implications for schools’  Early Childhood Development and Care  189:2, 2032-2042 https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2018.1431231

Everley, S and Macfadyen, T (2015) ‘I like playing on my trampoline; it makes me feel alive’ : Valuing Physical Activity: Perceptions and Meanings for Children and Implications for Primary Schools’ Education 3-13,  45:2. 1-25. DOI10.1080/03004279.2015.1069367

Sims, J., Scarborough, P. and Foster, C. (2015) ‘The effectiveness of interventions on sustained childhood physical activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled studies’ PLoS ONE e0132935 doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0132935

Publications in Conference Proceedings:

Everley, S. and Potter, J. (2016) ‘’Do 'Sporting' Agendas Limit Primary School Aged Girls' Physical Activity?’ Special Issue: Abstracts of the 13th International Congress on Obesity, 17:2  1-248

Everley, S. and Potter, J. (2016) ‘Primary School Aged Boys And Physical Activity In School Environments: Subjective Experiences And The Place Of 'Sport' In Social Identity’, Special Issue: Abstracts of the 13th International Congress on Obesity, 17:2. 1-248

Potter, J and Everley, S (2015) ‘Participation in Physical Activity and PE In UK Primary Schools’ in Obesity Facts, The European Journal of Obesity 8:1  1-272

Conference presentations

Everley, S.C and Everley, K (2017) ‘Children’s experiences of physical activity: implications for primary schools’, Presented to the British Educational Research Association’s Annual Conference, University of Sussex, Nominated for an Award for Best Paper within the PE and Sport Pedagogy SIG.

Gault, M.L., Potter, J., Lauder M. (2018). Effects of the daily mile on measure of physical fitness in 9-10 year olds.European College of Sport and Exercise Sciences Annual Conference. Dublin, Ireland.

Lauder, M., Potter, J., Gault, M.L. (2018). The intra-reliability of a physical fitness test battery in 9-10 year olds. European College of Sport and Exercise Sciences Annual Conference. Dublin, Ireland.

Potter, Gault, M.L., Lauder M. (2018). The impact of running a mile-a-day in school on attitudes to physical activity. European Congress on Obesity.

Key Staff