School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


a Team GB athlete in a race with spectators

Organisation and facility

This addresses how opportunities for engaging in sport and exercise in daily life are organised, resourced and facilitated. The role that social, policy, management, pedagogical and coaching interventions play to facilitate both elite and non-elite forms of participation are covered as well as their impact. The role of social, policy, commercial and government agencies in harnessing resources, providing governance and strategic direction for sports and exercise participation and engagement is also addressed.

The role of social, policy and government agencies in harnessing resources, providing governance and strategic direction for sports and exercise participation is also covered.

Recent projects:

Physical activity promotion through mass participation community events

Dr Clare Stevinson, Dr Mary Hickson, Dr Gareth Wiltshire

Project Description:

This project investigates the public health value of parkrun, a nation-wide network of weekly, free, volunteer-led, timed 5km runs in park settings. A cross-sectional analysis of 7308 participants across 130 events indicated high engagement from some population sectors with traditionally low activity levels. Interviews with 48 participants revealed specific features of the parkrun experience that encouraged sustained involvement. A prospective follow up of 354 new registrants showed improvements in several health and well-being outcomes over 12 months.

Collaborators: parkrun



  • Stevinson C, Hickson M. Changes in physical activity, weight and wellbeing outcomes among attendees of a weekly mass participation event: a prospective 12-month study. Journal of Public Health 2018 (advance e-publication).
  • Wiltshire G, Stevinson C. (2018) Exploring the role of social capital in community-based physical activity: qualitative insights from parkrun. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health; 10:47-62
  • Wiltshire G, Fullagar S, Stevinson C. Exploring parkrun as a social context for collective health practices: running with and against the moral imperatives of health responsibilisation. Sociology of Health and Illness; 2018 40:3-17
  • Stevinson C, Wiltshire G, Hickson M. (2015) Facilitating participation in health-enhancing physical activity: a qualitative study of parkrun. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine; 22:170-7
  • Stevinson C, Hickson M. (2013) Exploring the public health potential of a mass community participation event. Journal of Public Health; 36:268-74


Co-creation and the casualization of sport and fitness participation: Does neoliberalism produce solutions to social inclusion and public wellbeing?

Professor Paul DownwardDr Argyro Elisavet ManoliProfessor Ian HodgkinsonDr Harish Kumar

Project Description

This research explores the co-creation and casualisation of sport and leisure participation and argues that neoliberal approaches to provision can help to meet social well-being outcomes. This research shows that the traditional view that public sector facilities have the aspiration of meeting social objectives in sports policy and that private sector facilities focus on the financial gain is supported. However, despite the clear divergence between the emphasis placed on the delivery of sport policy goals across the private and public sectors, this has little impact on user participation or expression of health, wellbeing, and social capital. Rather than the form of ownership of facilities being important for achieving different objectives, this research finds that the opportunity to meet others and engage in self-organised activity can help to achieve policy objectives. Sports providers such as County Sports Partnerships thus have considerable flexibility in harnessing resources in seeking to pursue sports policy goals.

Collaborators: Leicestershire & Rutland Sport


Physical Activity and Nutrition at Sport Mega Events Research

Dr Joe Piggin


Dr Haifa Tlili (Paris Descartes University), Dr Doralice Lange de Souza (Universidade Federal do Paraná), Sabrina Furtado (Universidade Federal do Paraná), Matheus Milanez (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais), George Cunha (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais), Bruno Henrique Louzada (University of Lyon), Billy Graeff (University of Rio Grande), Dr Darren Powell (University of Auckland)

Project Description

The PHANSMER Project (Physical Activity and Nutrition at Sport Mega Events Research) involves researchers from Loughborough University in the UK, as well as France and Brazil. The international and interdisciplinary study examines how physical activity and nutritional health are promoted at sports events. The study asks questions such as: How do policy makers respond to changing attitudes towards health?  How are health messages disseminated by sport event organisers, and are they communicated successfully? How do spectators and consumers respond to health promotion messages at sport events?


  • Piggin, J., Souza, D.L., Furtado, S., Milanez, M., Cunha, G., Louzada, B.H., Graeff, B. & Tlili, H. (2019). Do the Olympic Games promote dietary health for spectators? An interdisciplinary study of health promotion through sport, European Sport Management Quarterly, DOI: 10.1080/16184742.2018.1562484
  • Piggin, J., Tlili, H. & Louzada, B. (2017) How does health policy affect practice at a sport mega-event? A study of policy, food and drink at Euro 2016. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. 9,(4), 739-751.


FREE (Football Research in and Enlarged Europe)

Dr Borja Garcia


The project was developed in cooperation with 8 European universities, and especially the Universities of Vienna, Valencia, METU (Ankara) and ESSCA School of Management.

Project Description

The FREE (Football Research in and Enlarged Europe) Project (, was an EU FP7 funded project researching the motivations behind recent football supporters’ activism. This project researched why and how football supporters get together to get involved in the management and organisation of professional football clubs, hence exercising their active citizenship and developing social capital.



Coach Analysis Intervention System (CAIS)

Professor Chris Cushion

Project Description 

Professor Cushion’s wide-ranging research in coaching and coach behaviour has led to the development of a ground-breaking online platform that enables coaches in all sports to analyse and better understand their own coaching behaviour.

CAIS is licenced to Performance Innovation and is available on the iSportsAnalysis online platform, offering a plug and play solution and licensing structure to meet the needs of all user groups.

A wide range of sports organisations around the world have already adopted CAIS, including: professional sport teams, governing bodies of sport, national sporting organisations, and collegiate sport. Leading universities use CAIS to view and analyse behaviour in ways that were not possible before. CAIS has spill-over benefits to enhance training and development in other sectors including law enforcement and defence.

CAIS on iSportsAnalysis


Collaborations between National Olympic Committees and National Governments

Dr Borja Garcia and Henk-Erik Meier (University of Münster, Germany) 

Project Description:

This project explores the relations between National Olympic Committees and public authorities in four different countries. It uses a case study approach, providing empirical evidence of the collaborations between NOCs and governments in Botswana, Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Germany. It is researched through analysis of legal and political documents and in depth interviews with NOC and governmental officials in each one of the four countries. This project was partially funded by an advanced research grant of the International Olympic Committee.