Study aims to learn more about the links between physical activity and mood, stress and arousal

Researchers are hoping to learn more about the relationship between physical activity and a healthy mind.

A team at Loughborough University is carrying out a study that looks at the association of physical activity and sedentary behaviour with brain activity in regions linked with mood, stress and arousal.

The study will also investigate whether certain blood markers are also linked to those regions of the brain.

PhD student Adbul Dera, who is carrying out the study, is looking for participants to take part in a short trial.

He said: “The main trial will last around two hours and involve a fasting blood sample, a 30-minute brain scan, and nine days of free-living physical activity assessments using accelerometry.

“We are hoping to better understand the importance of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in managing mental health and well-being.”

The study is looking for:

  • Males or females aged between 18 and 45-years-old
  • Non-smokers
  • People with a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 - 34.9 kg/m2
  • Able to have MRI scans
  • Able to watch TV without glasses (contact lenses are allowed)
  • Be able to consume a European or Mediterranean-style diet
  • Have no strict dietary requirements

The study will be split into two visits.

During the preliminary visit, researchers will explain the study in detail and ask people to complete a written consent form and questionnaires regarding their physical activity habits, food preferences and eating behaviours.

They will also take measurements of height, weight and waist and hip circumferences, and provide participants with three activity monitors to measure physical activity behaviours for nine days.

The main trial will take about two-and-a-half hours.

Participants will be expected to have fasted overnight for at least 10 hours.

Researchers will then take measurements of height, weight and body fat percentage. A fasting blood sample will also be taken before a 30-minute fMRI scan.

The participants will also be asked to fill in some subjective rating scales before and after the MRI scan to assess mood, stress and arousal.

Those taking part will receive an Amazon voucher for their time, MRI images of their brain and information on their habitual physical activity and sedentary time.

For more information or to register your interest, email:


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Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2022 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2022, and 10th in both the Guardian University League Table 2022 and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.