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Prof Catherine Woods

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Prof. Woods is Chair in Physical Activity for Health in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick (UL).  She is a member of UL’s Health Research Institute (, and Interim Lead - Physical Activity for Health Research Cluster (   Prof. Woods' research cuts across the HRI themes of lifestyle, health and technology.  She 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.  Prof. Woods believes that physical activity is a best buy for public health as 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 10 PhD and 6 MSc research students, and currently has one research fellow and three post-doctoral researchers, two research assistants and six PhD students within her physical activity for health research team.  This team have published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and presented at >30 (inter)national conferences.



Research Interests

Prof Woods' area of 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 to understand and influence population levels of physical activity for health; however, it requires an extensive knowledge and an appreciation for inter-disciplinary work.  Current research priorities are listed below with an example of ongoing projects in each priority area. 


Physical activity policy evaluation and development.

• 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.


O'Regan A;Glynn L;Garcia Bengoechea E;Casey M;Clifford A;Donnelly A;Murphy AW;Gallagher S;Gillespie P;Newell J;Harkin M;Macken P;Sweeney J;Foley-Walsh M;Quinn G;Ng K;O'Sullivan N;Balfry G;Woods C; (2019) An evaluation of an intervention designed to help inactive adults become more active with a peer mentoring component: a protocol for a cluster randomised feasibility trial of the Move for Life programme.  BMC: Pilot And Feasibility Studies.  10.1186/s40814-019-0473-y

Klepac Pogrmilovic, B., O’Sullivan, G., Milton, K., Biddle, S.j. Bauman, A., Bellew, W., Cavill, N., Kahlmeier, S., Kelly, M.P., Mutrie, N., Pratt, M., Rutter, H., Ramirez Varela, A., Woods, C. and Zelijko, P. (2019). The development of the Comprehensive Analysis of Policy on Physical Activity (CAPPA) framework. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 16, 60 (2019) doi:10.1186/s12966-019-0822-5

Ng K.;McHale F.;Cotter K.;O¿Shea D.;Woods C. (2019) Feasibility study of the secondary level active school flag programme: Study protocol.  Journal Of Functional Morphology And Kinesiology.  10.3390/jfmk4010016

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. JMIR research protocols, 8(2), p.e10823.  doi:10.2196/10823

Marie MurphyAngela Carlin, Catherine WoodsCiaran MacDonncha and Niamh Murphy. (2018)  Active Students Are Healthier and Happier Than Their Inactive Peers: A Large Representative Cross-Sectional Study of University Students in Ireland. JPAH. Volume:0 Issue: 0 Pages:1-10 doi: 10.1123/jpah.2017-0432.