Lifestyle and Health

The objective of this theme is to develop innovative ways through research to enhance human experience and encourage lifestyle changes that result in better health and wellbeing, exercise and fitness, across the lifespan.

Understanding the influence of modifiable health behaviours on health and changing those behaviours is the central focus of this theme.  The different strands within the theme examine the effects of diet, physical activity and stress on both physical and mental health.

Significant research strands within the theme include:

Physical activity, sedentary behaviour, sport and health.
Research in this area include; mapping the interaction of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health in children, adolescents and adults, and in clinical populations; the optimal measurement of physical activity; the correlates and determinants of health promoting physical activity; developing and evaluating physical activity interventions across the lifespan; developing effective policy for physical activity and sedentary behaviour; the implementation of physical activity policy; physical activity the use of exercise and physiotherapy interventions to improve the health and well-being of clinical populations including people with multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.    Translational work examines physiology and biomechanics of sports performance sports injuries, including thoracic spine and shoulder pain, lower limb tendinopathy and lower back pain.

Exercise metabolism, diet and health.
Research within this strand includes; the plasticity and metabolic adaptation of skeletal muscle in response to exercise; human body composition/anthropometric phenotype in healthy adults and disease states; metabolic regulation of fatigue, specifically neuroendocrine, substrate metabolism, skeletal muscle buffering, oxidative stress and immune function in health and disease; vitamin-K dependent proteins in health and disease; how diet can impact and modulate the gut microbiota and thus impact health.

Stress, mental health and well-being.
This strand has a focus on causes and effects of stress, mental health and well-being.  Current projects include; the effects of exercise on mental health, particularly anxiety and depression, among otherwise healthy adults and chronically-ill patients; psychological trauma, social identity, health and adjustment; the health and social costs of class divisions; sharing hope: community support, identity and suicide prevention; self-defining memory, identity and neuro-rehabilitation and social integration post Brain Injury; the stress of unemployment and its impact on the stress hormones cortisol and DHEA; the psychological processes that help people to be mentally healthy, and how those processes are different in people with states like depression and anxiety.

Theme Lead - Brian Carson

Dr Brian P. Carson  is an Exercise Physiologist in the Physical Education and Sport Sciences department at the University of Limerick. Brian's research interests are primarily focused on the plasticity and metabolic adaptation of skeletal muscle in response to exercise and how this can be modified through interaction with nutrition. Brian’s current research projects are investigating exercise and nutrient interventions to optimise skeletal muscle and whole-body metabolism in populations across the health and lifespan. Therefore, the regulation of whole-body metabolism by skeletal muscle contraction and myokine release is of specific interest. In collaboration with a number of PIs at UL, Brian currently receives funding from the Food for Health Ireland 2 (FHI2) programme to investigate the efficacy of nutrient supplementation with proteins mined from milk to provide metabolic outcomes which support Healthy Ageing and Performance Nutrition (HAPN).