Healthy active living

Real-world solutions to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour in the community.

Research focus

This domain focuses on real-world solutions to increase population levels of physical activity.

Researchers in this domain come from a wide range of disciplines including: health promotion, education, public health, psychology, epidemiology, human movement and sports science, physiology and endocrinology of stress, musculoskeletal health, motor development, geography, and implementation science.

From pregnancy and early childhood to adulthood, researchers have expertise in:

  • Objective and self-report methods for assessing physical activity
  • Behavioural epidemiology and determinants of physical activity
  • Quantitative and qualitative research methods and
  • Real world ‘scalable’ interventions, including the use of e-health to promote physical activity.

Research projects

Transform-Us! Boosting physical activity in every Victorian classroom

Scalability of the Transform-Us! program to promote children’s physical activity and reduce prolonged sitting in Victorian primary schools.

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Embedding physical activity in primary, secondary and tertiary education

Moving a sedentary generation: Comparing implementation approaches at scale to increase child and youth physical activity.

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A new app to help parents raise healthier toddlers

IPAN researchers are developing and testing a new app for families to increase physical activity, decrease sedentary behaviour and optimise sleep in their 2-year-old children.

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Exploring changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour since COVID-19 – the Our Life @ Home Study

IPAN researchers Dr Lauren Arundell and Dr Kate Parker are leading a two-year study to understand how COVID-19 has influenced movement behaviours, health and wellbeing.

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Parks for heart health: understanding and influencing park design to optimise physical activity

IPAN’s Associate Professor Jenny Veitch’s project, funded by the National Heart Foundation of Australia via a Future Leader Fellowship, is examining how parks can be designed to encourage physical activity for the prevention of heart disease.

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Tracking movement patterns and associated health outcomes in early childhood

Dr Katherine Downing is investigating whether children up to five years maintain sedentary habits into later childhood.

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Research groups

  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour from infancy to young adulthood

    Group members: Alfred Deakin Professor Anna Timperio, Professor Kylie Hesketh, Associate Professor Lisa Barnett, Associate Professor Nicky Ridgers, Associate Professor Jenny Veitch, Dr Lauren Arundell, Dr Katherine Downing, Dr Jill Hnatiuk, Dr Harriet Koorts, Dr Venurs Loh, Dr Shannon Sahlqvist

    This group focuses on understanding and influencing physical activity (including fundamental motor skills and physical literacy) and sedentary behaviour in the early years of life from infancy through to young adulthood. Health and wellbeing outcomes associated with these behaviours are also a priority, including cognitive development, musculoskeletal health, obesity, and other cardiometabolic risk factors. In particular, we focus on the key transitions during early childhood, into primary school, secondary school and school leavers.

    We design and test ‘real world interventions’ using cost-effective strategies that can be adopted by health, education, or other systems at scale. We work extensively with key stakeholders who represent all levels of government, non-government organisations, education sector, and parent groups. Our group has expertise in health promotion, public health, psychology, implementation science, behavioural epidemiology, human movement sciences, and musculoskeletal health.

    This group covers:

    • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour assessment, patterns and health
    • Understanding how physical activity behaviours change including key transition periods
    • Understanding the influences on physical activity and sedentary behaviour
    • Fundamental movement skills and physical literacy
    • Designing and evaluating programs in early childhood settings, schools, homes and communities to help children and adolescents be more active and less sedentary
    • Implementation and scale up of effective programs in populations.
  • Built and natural environments for physical activity

    Group members: Alfred Deakin Professor David Crawford, Alfred Deakin Professor Jo Salmon, Associate Professor Nicky Ridgers, Associate Professor Lukar Thornton, Associate Professor Jenny Veitch, Dr Venurs Loh, Dr Shannon Sahlqvist

    This group focuses on understanding how the built and natural environments in which people live, work, learn and play can be designed to support opportunities for physical activity via incidental activity, active play, active transport, sport and recreational physical activity.

    Elements of the built and natural environment we focus on include urban design and accessibility, streetscapes, park design, school grounds and play spaces.

    This group covers:

    • Understanding how neighbourhood attributes and urban design influence active transport and physical activity across the lifespan
    • Investigating the role of parks and greenspace in supporting healthy active living
    • Evaluating the impact of environmental modifications on active living
    • Exploring school and play space design to optimise physical activity.
  • Healthy and active workers

    Group members: Associate Professor Daniel Belavy, Associate Professor Nicky Ridgers, Dr Luana Main, Dr Anne Turner

    This group focuses on understanding the behavioural, physiological, physical and psychological factors that contribute to workers’ physical and mental health and wellbeing, and activity, both within and beyond their job.

    For many people, a particular challenge to their health is sedentary behaviour at work, or the impact that their work has on their physical activity outside their working hours. For these reasons, our research also focusses on workers’ physical activity and sedentary behaviour (including incidental activity), physically demanding tasks, formal exercise training, and engagement with leisure time activity including sport.

    This groups covers:

    • Helping workers stay safe, and physically and mentally well to be able to perform at their best
    • Modifying sleep, work-rest schedules or training programs to benefit shift workers’ wellbeing.