Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport

Team members

Christof Leicht

Dr Christof Leicht

Lecturer, strand leader of Health and Wellbeing

Tel +44 (0)1509 226306

Christof Leicht joined the Sport Science Research Strand in 2009 and was a Research Associate at the PHC until August 2014.

He is now a Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University and leads the Health and Wellbeing Strand of the PHC.


  • PhD in exercise physiology. Title: Mucosal immune and physiological responses to exercise in wheelchair athletes. Loughborough University, 2012
  • MSc in Sports and Exercise Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland (2004).
  • BSc in Biology, University of Berne, Switzerland (2001).

Current research interests:
Christof’s research explores the field of exercise and immune function in individuals that have a reduced capacity to exercise, which includes wheelchair users. He is particularly interested in the immune response to exercise in high level spinal cord injury, which may interrupt some of the neural pathways involved in immune regulation. Christof is also interested in temperature interventions that may boost the immune response, such as hot baths or saunas.

Previous research and experience:
Christof’s previous work in in the area of exercise physiology covers the mucosal immune response to exercise and the susceptibility of wheelchair athletes to catching coughs and colds. He started doing research in spinal cord injury at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre, where he obtained his MSc degree.

Selected recent keynote and conference presentations

Selected recent keynote and conference presentations:

Leicht C.A., Papanagopolous A., Haghighat S., Faulkner S. (2016) Increasing heat storage by wearing extra clothing during upper body exercise up-regulates heat shock protein 70 but does not modify the cytokine response. 21st annual congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS). July 6-9, Vienna, Austria.

Faulkner S.H., Jackson S., McDaid K., Havenith G., Leicht C.A. (2016). Passive heating as an option for improving glucose control: take a bath! American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) annual meeting. May 31–June 4, Boston, USA.

Leicht C.A., Goosey-Tolfrey V.L. & Bishop N.C. (2015). Arm and leg exercise performed at the same relative exercise intensity induces a similar acute cytokine increase. International Society of Exercise and Immunology (ISEI) Conference. July 7-9, Vienna.

Leicht C.A. (2014). Immune function and exercise – special considerations in wheelchair-dependent populations. Wakayama Symposium for persons with spinal cord injuries. November 23-24, Wakayama, Japan.

Selected recent publications

Selected recent publications:

  • Faulkner S., Jackson, S., Fatania, G. & Leicht C.A. Passive heating, heat shock protein 70, interleukin-6 and energy expenditure: A treatment tool for metabolic diseases? Temperature 2017; accepted January 25.
  • Leicht C.A., Paulson, T.A.W., Goosey-Tolfrey V.L. & Bishop N.C. Salivary alpha amylase not chromogranin A reflects sympathetic activity: exercise responses in elite male wheelchair athletes with or without cervical spinal cord injury. Sports Med - Open 2017; 3:1; URL: http://www.sportsmedicine-open.com/content/3/1/1 
  • Leicht, C.A. & Bishop N.C. The Effect of Acute and Chronic Exercise on Inflammatory Markers in SCI. (2016) In: The Physiology of Exercise in Spinal Cord Injury, ed. Taylor J.A. Springer Nature  (New York), Chapter 11, 217-232. ISBN 978-1-4939-6662-2
  • Leicht C.A., Papanagopolous A., Haghighat S. & Faulkner S. Increasing heat storage by wearing extra clothing during upper body exercise up-regulates heat shock protein 70 but does not modify the cytokine response. J. Sports Sci. 2016; published online Sep 26.
  • Leicht C.A., Paulson, T.A.W., Goosey-Tolfrey V.L. & Bishop N.C. Arm and intensity-matched leg exercise induce similar inflammatory responses. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2016; 48(6):1161-8.
  • West, C., Leicht C.A., Goosey-Tolfrey V.L., & Romer L.M. Perspective: Does laboratory-based maximal incremental exercise testing elicit maximum physiological responses in highly-trained athletes with cervical spinal cord injury? Front. Physiol. 2016; 6:419, doi: 10.3389/fphys.2015.00419.
  • Leicht C.A., Kouda K., Umemoto Y., Banno M., Kinoshita T., Moriki T., Nakamura T., Bishop N.C., Goosey-Tolfrey V.L., & Tajima F. Hot water immersion induces an acute cytokine response in cervical spinal cord injury. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 2015; 115(11):2243-52.
  • Leicht C.A., Goosey-Tolfrey V.L, &  Bishop N.C. Spinal cord injury: Known and possible influences on the immune response to exercise. Exerc. Immunol. Rev. 2013; 19: 144-63.
  • Goosey-Tolfrey V.L. & Leicht C.A. Field-based physiological testing of wheelchair athletes. Sports Med. 2013; 43(2): 77-91.
  • Paulson T.A.W., Goosey-Tolfrey V.L., Lenton J.P., Leicht C.A., & Bishop N.C. Spinal cord injury level and the circulating cytokine response to strenuous exercise. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2013; 45(9): 1649-55.