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Prof Catherine Woods

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 Prof. Woods joined the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS), Faculty of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Limerick (UL) in 2016.  She is a member of UL’s Health Research Institute (  and my research cuts across its themes of technology, lifestyle and health.  Prof. Woods enjoys developing and testing theoretically sound interventions to change population levels of physical activity, and seeks better, more systematic methods of bringing research, practice and policy closer together to achieve real and sustainable impact.  Currently, she is leading on interventions targeting primary prevention in school-aged children ‘the Healthy Ireland Demonstration Project’, and promoting physical activity with inactive adults aged 50+ ‘the Move for Life project’ (  Prof Woods also co-ordinates a secondary prevention programme, where structured exercise is used for health and wellbeing improvement in adults living with chronic disease ‘MedEx UL’ and ‘PATHway’ ( 

Physical activity is a best buy in terms of public health, according to Prof. Woods.  It has the potential to improve health and wellbeing for everyone, irrespective of age, ability or condition.  Since joining UL in 2016, Professor Woods’ has led - as Principal or Co-Investigator –successful grant applications generating a total income of €5,585,736 (€1,986,000 to UL).  Professor Woods has successfully trained 8 PhD and 6 MSc research students, and currently has one research fellow and four post-doctoral researchers, four full-time research assistants and five PhD students.  Since January 2018, her research group have published >15 peer-reviewed journal articles and presented at numerous (inter)national conferences.

Research Areas:

Prof. Woods’ research expertise is Physical Activity for Health.  Her research is framed within the social ecological model and consequently, she works across individual, interpersonal, community and policy levels. This multi-level approach is necessary in order to comprehensively understand and influence population levels of physical activity for health; however, it requires an extensive knowledge and an appreciation for inter-disciplinary work.  Her current research priorities are listed below. 


  • The promotion of physical activity and healthy lifestyles in clinical and older adult populations.
  • Understanding the determinants of physical activity in children and young people and developing evidence-based interventions to promote physical activity in this cohort.
  • Physical activity policy evaluation and development.
  • Walkability and the built environment.


Murphy, J., MacDonncha, C., Murphy, M., Murphy, N. Timperio, A., Leech, R. & Woods, C.B. (2019). Identification of health-related behavioural clusters and their association with demographic characteristics in Irish university students. Bmc Public Health. 19 (121):1-11. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-019-6453-6.

Murphy, J.J., Woods, C.B., Murphy, M.H., Murphy, N., Byrne, N. and MacDonncha, C. (2019). Student Activity and Sport Study Ireland: Protocol for a Web-Based Survey and Environmental Audit Tool for Assessing the Impact of Multiple Factors on University Students’ Physical Activity. Journal Of Medical Internet Research. 8 (2).  

Duff O., Walsh D., Malone S., McDermott L., Furlong B., O'Connor N., Moran K. & Woods C. (2018). MedFit App, a Behavior-Changing, Theoretically Informed Mobile App for Patient Self-Management of Cardiovascular Disease: User-Centered Development.  JMIR Formativ Res. 2018;2(1):e8. DOI: 10.2196/formative.9550.

Murphy, M., Carlin, A., Woods, C., Nevill, A., MacDonncha, C., Ferguson, K. & Murphy, N. (2018). Active Students Are Healthier and Happier Than Their Inactive Peers: The Results of a Large Representative Cross-Sectional Study of University Students in Ireland. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 15 (10): 737-746.

Walsh, D., Moran, K., Cornelissen, V., Buys, R., Cornelis, N. & Woods, C. (2018). Electronic Health Physical Activity Behavior Change Intervention to Self-Manage Cardiovascular Disease: Qualitative Exploration of Patient and Health Professional Requirements. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 20(5): e163.

Müller, A., Maher, C.A., Vandelanotte, C., Hingle, M., Middelweerd, A. & Lopez, M., DeSmet, A., Short, C., Nathan, N., Hutchesson, M., Poppe, L., Woods, C., Williams, S. & Wark, P. (2018). Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Diet-Related eHealth and mHealth Research: Bibliometric Analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 20 (4): e122.