The University of Limerick hosts the Physical Activity for Health (PAfH) research cluster which is funded by the University’s Health Research Institute (HRI). PAfH is a national and international hub for PA research excellence and brings together a multidisciplinary group of physiologists, sports and exercise scientists, physiotherapists, and health, sports and exercise psychologists. The cluster is led by Prof Catherine Woods and 9 core faculty members. PAfH also has over 40 affiliate postgrad and post-doctoral members with the core members currently supervising nearing 30 PhD students.
Ireland has a significant public health challenge as few individuals meet the national physical activity (PA) guidelines. This has considerable health, economic, environment and social consequences. The Physical Activity for Health (PAfH) research centre aims to build an international hub of excellence through multidisciplinary expertise, international renown for research excellence and capacity to meet global and local research, policy and practice challenges in promotion of PA for health.
PAfH has four complementary and inter-linking foci; 1) PA Measurement, surveillance and Determinants, 2) Biomedicine of PA, 3) PA and Exercise as Medicine, 4) Policy Impact and Implementation of Effective Interventions. PAfH research covers multiple settings across the lifespan, and its activities include research, collaboration & networking, and capacity building & training.
Since its inception in 2019, PAfH has accelerated its reputation for research excellence and effective collaboration. PAfH core members are principal investigators on >8 international (Horizon, Joint Programme Initiative, Cost Action) and >7 national (HRB, SFI, IRC, Government) research grants. PAfH has generated over €4.5 million to UL and the HRI, (€15 million in total income). PAfH published 84 peer-reviewed publications (>2500 citations, 2021), and already produces 3.6% of UL publication output for 2022 (Scopus).
PAfH’s international renown is developing, increasing its visibility and that of the HRI. During COVID PAfH ran a successful international webinar series, attracting online registrations from 100-400+ attendees. PAfH critically supports Exercise is Medicine® Ireland National Centre activities, it has partnered with I-PARC (www.i-parc.ie) and was sought by the World Health Organisation to provide ‘technical knowledge and expertise on PA’ to Government representatives from 27 EU countries (2022, Nice, France). PAfH launched its international summer and winter training schools in autumn 2022, providing training and building capacity of early career researchers. PAfH will host three international conferences in 2022-2024. PAfH’s associate membership has grown to 89, including approximately 40 ECRs.
PAfH’s long-term vision is to be recognised as world leaders in research excellence with real world impact for policy and practice.