Sport and Exercise Science: Fully Funded PhD at Swansea: High-Intensity Interval Training

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 16 March 2020

Fully Funded PhD Scholarship: Optimising the delivery of high-intensity interval training interventions for improving health and wellbeing in sedentary individuals and patients in real-world settings
This scholarship is funded by Swansea University and Integrated Health Partners Ltd.
Sport and Exercise Science, Physical Activity and Health, Exercise Physiology
High intensity interval training (HIT) has rapidly gained in popularity over the past decade and is often promoted as a time-efficient alternative to aerobic exercise. However, although the health benefits of HIT in lab-based studies are generally equal or superior to those associated with aerobic exercise, common HIT protocols are less time-efficient than generally suggested and too strenuous to be viable as exercise interventions for sedentary or clinical populations \[1\]. At Swansea University, our current research is addressing the question of why HIT is so effective for improving cardiovascular and metabolic health and using this information to ‘optimise’ HIT protocols by making them shorter and easier whilst retaining the positive health-related adaptations. Based on hypotheses surrounding the underlying mechanisms responsible for adaptations to HIT, we have developed a low-volume HIT protocol consisting of two 20-second ‘all-out’ sprints within a 10-minute exercise session (termed ‘reduced-exertion high-intensity interval training’; REHIT). The efficacy of the 10 minute REHIT protocol for improving maximal oxygen uptake capacity (V̇O2max) has been well described \[2-4\], and other positive health-related adaptations, including improved insulin sensitivity \[2\], glycaemic control \[5\] and blood pressure \[6\], have also been reported. This HIT protocol is both time-efficient and manageable and has potential to remove many of the barriers that prevent sedentary individuals from reaping the health benefits of regular exercise.
The majority of this work has been conducted in controlled laboratory settings and a major barrier to implementation of REHIT in real-world settings has been the need for supervision and a specialised ergometer. We have worked with the company Integrated Health Partners Ltd to develop a tailor-made ergometer, branded as CAR.O.L, suitable for performing REHIT in real-world, unsupervised conditions. Using the CAR.O.L ergometer, we have recently completed a small-scale feasibility study, which provides initial support for REHIT as an effective and acceptable exercise intervention for improving health in the workplace \[7\]. However, this study revealed a number of important research questions that now need to be addressed. The proposed PhD will involve a combination of lab-based and ‘real-world’ experiments which will address these research questions with the overarching aim of optimising the real-world delivery of HIT (REHIT) in various populations and settings.
Project supervisors:
  1. Dr Richard Metcalfe (Primary)
  2. Dr Niels Vollaard (Secondary; University of Stirling)
  3. Dr Melitta McNarry (Secondary; Swansea University)

Available resources/facilities:
The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences is located on the Bay Campus and houses state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment for performing exercise, physiological and health-related assessments. There are also wet lab facilities for performing any biochemical and/or molecular analysis that would be undertaken as part of this project.
Swansea University
This is a scholarship by

Swansea University

Swansea, is a coastal city and county, officially known as the City and County of Swansea in Wales.

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Candidates hold or expect to achieve a minimum of an upper second class (2:1) honours degree (or its equivalent) in a relevant subject area, either Sport and Exercise Science, Physical Activity and Health, Biomedical Sciences, Human Physiology, Medicine, or similar. An MSc in related subject area is desirable.
The successful candidate will have a good knowledge of the physiological responses to exercise, an understanding of the role of physical activity and exercise in prevention and treatment of chronic disease, and of the complexities of physical activity measurement and manipulation. They will also be able to demonstrate the ability to work independently, and to communicate clearly and effectively through oral and written means.
Previous experience in undertaking a range of physiological and/or health-based assessments is important, as is experience in quantitative research methods.
We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements (IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5+ in each component) to be met by point of application. For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit the website for more information.
Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.


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This scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £12,000 for three years.

There will be additional funds (approximately £1,100 per year) available for research expenses.


Please visit our website for more information.

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