Deadline: 2017-07-31
Value of Scholarship: Not specified

Funded MSc by Research Studentship: Investigating the Effect of High Intensity Exercise on Habitual Physical Activity Levels in Youth with Cystic Fibrosis



Swansea University is a UK top 30 institution for research excellence (Research Excellence Framework 2014), and has been named Welsh University of the Year 2017 by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

Project start date: October 2017

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is the most prevalent lethal autosomal recessive disease in the Caucasian population (Quinton 1990). Mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) gene lead to malfunctioning or absent CFTR proteins, impairing mucosal clearance mechanisms. As such, CF is characterised by excessive viscous secretions in almost all organs, particularly the lungs, resulting in recurring infections, inflammation, airflow obstruction, and ultimately progressive functional decline. Whilst there remains no cure, advances in the treatment for patients with CF have resulted in an increased median life expectancy from 8 years in 1974, to 31 years in 2005 and 41 years in 2012 (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 2012). Interventions which seek to ameliorate, or at least slow, the rate of decline in lung function in this aging patient group, remain a clinical priority. 

However, most exercise interventions have reported limited effectiveness and sustainability, with a perception of “no time to play” frequently cited as the key barrier to greater engagement in exercise or physical activity programmes. A recent study found a lack of time was referred to in both a literal and a symbolic sense, with a key emergent theme being that patients wished exercise programmes could be shorter, leaving them more time for other pursuits. This highlights the potential application of high-intensity, intermittent exercise (HIIE), which has been shown to be equally, if not more, effective as traditional exercise at enhancing exercise capacity in healthy people whilst necessitating a significantly reduced time commitment.  

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A key question with any exercise or physical activity intervention is the knock-on effect on habitual physical activity levels and sedentary behaviour. It is hypothesised that there may be a displacement or negative compensation such that total physical activity levels are not increased consequent to engagement in an activity programme. However, despite the importance of PA and exercise for those with CF, the applicability of such concepts to this population is presently unknown. Therefore, the purpose of this multidisciplinary project is to investigate the influence of HIIE on habitual PA levels in those with CF.

Eligibility

Academic requirements:

Candidates should have a 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline, such as Sport and Exercise Science, Medicine, Physiology.

Candidates are also required to have:

  • Ability to communicate effectively with others and coordinate multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Awareness of physical activity and its measurement.

Residency criteria:

Applications from overseas candidates are welcome but candidates should be aware that the studentship will only partially cover international tuition fees (value of £4,195).

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