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

Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport

Team members

Sven Hoekstra

PhD student in Health and Wellbeing

Sven is a PhD student at the PHC, supervised by Dr Christof Leicht and Dr Lettie Bishop. 


  • MSc Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen
  • BSc Health and Life Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam

Current research interests

Sven started his PhD in October 2015. His project, under the supervision of Dr Christof Leicht and Dr Lettie Bishop, focusses on the inflammatory response to different strategies to improve health in a population that has to rely on their upper-body for exercise, like individuals with a spinal cord injury for example. Among the possible strategies are arm-cranking and handcycling, but also hot water immersion. The created anti-inflammatory environment in response to these strategies could reduce the chronic low-grade inflammation related to the metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases. Although there is considerable knowledge on the responses to leg-exercise such as cycling or running, little is known about upper-body exercise in that respect. Therefore, the challenge of this project is to pave the way for feasible, evidence-based strategies to improve health by use of upper-body exercise and/or heat treatment.

Previous research and experience

During his Master`s program in Groningen, Sven was involved in research within the HandbikeBattle-project. During the HandbikeBattle, participants of 10 rehabilitation centres in the Netherlands climb an Austrian col (±20km) in their handbike. Participants are mostly recreational athletes, of which some just finished their rehabilitation-phase. Within this project, Sven’s research focused on the improvements made in fitness and health as a result of the training program prior to the event. Furthermore, in a collaboration with the Dutch national cycling federation and the national handbike-coach, a training-monitoring study was conducted with the use of power meters and the session-RPE. Alongside that, he was a trainer of the handbike-team Groningen, which was one of the participating rehabilitation centres of the HandbikeBattle.

Selected recent keynote and conference presentations

  • Hoekstra, S.P., Valent, L.J.M., Gobets, D., Van der Woude, L.H.V. and De Groot, S. (2015). The effects of 4 months handbike training under free-living conditions on physical fitness and health outcomes. Science & Cycling conference, Utrecht, Holland.
  • Hoekstra, S.P., Valent, L.J.M., Janssen, T.W., Paulich, M., Van der Woude, L.H.V. and De Groot, S. (2015) Transferability of results on physiological outcomes between three arm ergometers. Vista conference, Girona, Spain. 

Selected recent publications

  • Hoekstra, S., Valent, L., Gobets, D., Van der Woude, L., De Groot, S. Effects of four-month handbike training under free-living conditions on physical fitness and health in wheelchair users, Disabil Rehabil (2016), ahead of print.