James has been a mainstay at Loughborough University, having completed his BSc (Human Biology), MSc (Physical activity and public health) and PhD (Digital Health) at Loughborough. Following on from his PhD, James undertook an Enterprise Associate position with Dr Dale Esliger, working primarily with external commercial companies on various research projects relating to the quantification of human behaviour. Between September 2019 and November 2020, James was working as a Senior Research Associate on the NIHR funded Snacktivity project with Professor Amanda Daley. Since then James has been interested in the use of machine learning and AI to develop digital health interventions to increase participation in physical activity as part of the Centre for Lifestyle Medicine and Behaviour in Digital Health.

Guide to picking the perfect fitness tracker with Dr James Sanders

James’s research focus is on two main areas. The first involves testing the accuracy and reliability of mHealth technologies to measure a variety of metrics. The second research area focuses on the design and implementation of digital health behaviour change interventions in inactive adult populations. These interventions may include the use of novel mHealth technologies or methodologies to help participants to become more active more often. Specifically, James is interested in using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to develop Digital Health interventions to increase participation in physical activity.

James has also worked extensively with commercial organisations in the past and has a strong interest in bridging the gap between academia and industry.

Selected research grants

  • Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst Grant - Holly Health Prevent: Developing Precision Health Behaviour Change Product, using JITAI Coaching for Multimorbidity (£104,247). Awarded May 2024 – October 2025. Academic Principle Investigator
  • Milton Keynes City Council & Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – “Research Partner to evaluate the use of wearable technology in people with type 2 diabetes in Milton Keynes” (£130,031). Awarded December 2023 – December 2028 – Co-Investigator (Evaluation Lead)

Featured publications

  • Large, JF, Madigan, C, Graham, H, Biddle, GJH, Sanders, J, Daley, AJ (2024) Public and dental teams' views about weight management interventions in dental health settings: Systematic review and meta‐analysis, Obesity Reviews, e13726.
  • Ahmadi, MN, Hamer, M, Gill, JMR, Murphy, M, Sanders, JP, Doherty, A, Stamatakis, E (2023) Brief bouts of device-measured intermittent lifestyle physical activity and its association with major adverse cardiovascular events and mortality in people who do not exercise: a prospective cohort study, The Lancet Public Health, 8(10), pp.e800-e810.
  • Krouwel, M, Greenfield, SM, Chalkley, A, Sanders, JP, Parretti, HM, Gokal, K, Jolly, K, Skrybant, M, Biddle, SJH, Greaves, C, Maddison, R, Mutrie, N, Ives, N, Esliger, DW, Sherar, L, Edwardson, CL, Yates, T, Frew, E, Tearne, S, Daley, AJ (2023) Promoting participation in physical activity through Snacktivity: A qualitative mixed methods study, PLoS ONE, 18(9) e0291040.
  • Thomas, JJC, Daley, AJ, Esliger, DW, Kettle, VE, Coombe, A, Stamatakis, E, Sanders, JP (2023) Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity Data Sets (Global Physical Activity Data Set Catalogue) That Include Markers of Cardiometabolic Health: Systematic Scoping Review, Journal of Medical Internet Research, 25, pp.e45599-e45599.
  • Sanders, JP, Gokal, K, Thomas, JJC, Rawstorn, JC, Sherar, LB, Maddison, R, Greaves, CJ, Esliger, D, Daley, AJ (2023) Development of a Mobile Health Snacktivity App to Promote Physical Activity in Inactive Adults (SnackApp): Intervention Mapping and User Testing Study, JMIR Formative Research, 7, pp.e41114-e41114.
  • Daley, AJ, Griffin, RA, Moakes, CA, Sanders, JP, Skrybant, M, Ives, N, Maylor, B, Greenfield, SM, Gokal, K, Parretti, HM, Biddle, SJH, Greaves, C, Maddison, R, Mutrie, N, Esliger, DW, Sherar, L, Edwardson, CL, Yates, T, Frew, E, Tearne, S, Jolly, K (2023) Snacktivity™ to promote physical activity and reduce future risk of disease in the population: protocol for a feasibility randomised controlled trial and nested qualitative study, Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 9(1), 45.
  • Biddle, G, Sanders, J, Gokal, K, Madigan, C, Thomas, J, Pyle, A, Roalfe, A, Daley, A (2022) A Christmas themed physical activity intervention to increase participation in physical activity during Advent: pilot randomised controlled trial, BMJ, 379, e072807.
  • Sharp, K, Sherar, L, Kettle, V, Sanders, J, Daley, A (2022) Effectiveness of interventions to increase device-measured physical activity in pregnant women: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 19, 142, DOI: 10.1186/s12966-022-01379-w.
  • Gokal, K, Amos-Hirst, R, Moakes, CA, Sanders, JP, Esliger, DW, Sherar, LB, Ives, N, Biddle, SJH, Edwardson, C, Yates, T and Frew, E (2022) Views of the public about Snacktivity™: a small changes approach to promoting physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour. BMC public health, 22(1), pp.1-12.
  • Sanders, JP, Biddle, SJ, Gokal, K, Sherar, LB, Skrybant, M, Parretti, HM, Ives, N, Yates, T, Mutrie, N, Daley, AJ and Snacktivity Study Team (2021) ‘Snacktivity™’to increase physical activity: Time to try something different?. Preventive Medicine, 153, p.106851.
  • Tyldesley-Marshall, N, Greenfield, SM, Parretti, HM, Gokal, K, Greaves, C, Jolly, K, Maddison, R and Daley, AJ, 2021. Snacktivity™ to promote physical activity: a qualitative study. International journal of behavioral medicine, pp.1-12.
  • Kingsnorth, AP, Whelan, ME, Sanders, JP, Sherar, LB and Esliger, DW (2018) Using digital health technologies to understand the association between movement behaviors and interstitial glucose: exploratory analysis. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 6(5), p.e114.
  • Bakrania, K, Yates, T, Rowlands, AV, Esliger, DW, Bunnewell, S, Sanders, JP, Davies, M, Khunti, K and Edwardson, CL (2016) Intensity thresholds on raw acceleration data: Euclidean norm minus one (ENMO) and mean amplitude deviation (MAD) approaches. PloS one, 11(10), p.e0164045.
  • Loveday, A, Sherar, LB, Sanders, JP, Sanderson, PW and Esliger, DW (2016) Novel technology to help understand the context of physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Physiological Measurement, 37(10), p.1834.
  • Sanders, JP, Loveday, A, Pearson, N, Edwardson, C, Yates, T, Biddle, SJ and Esliger, DW (2016) Devices for self-monitoring sedentary time or physical activity: a scoping review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18(5), p.e90.
  • Edwardson, CL, Rowlands, AV, Bunnewell, S, Sanders, JP, Esliger, DW, Gorely, T, O'Connell, S, Davies, MJ, Khunti, K and Yates, TE (2016) Accuracy of posture allocation algorithms for thigh-and waist-worn accelerometers. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 48(6), 1085–1090.
  • Loveday, A, Sherar, LB, Sanders, JP, Sanderson, PW and Esliger, DW (2015) Technologies that assess the location of physical activity and sedentary behavior: a systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 17(8), p.e192