Children’s Health and Exercise Research Centre

Research interests

The Centre has established Children’s Health and Exercise research as a major academic field both nationally and internationally. We also offer the first taught MSc programme in Paediatric Exercise and Health Sciences in the world, where our students are exposed to and learn from many of our research studies and in certain instances we have provided opportunities for them to become authors on journal articles.

Centre history

Historically, the Centre established its reputation on studies examining the relationship between habitual physical activity, cardio-respiratory fitness and health in young people (funded by the British Heart Foundation), and through the assessment and interpretation of aerobic and anaerobic metabolic capacities in youth (funded by the National Lottery Fund, and the Darlington Trust). Consequently, we possess a large data base on aerobic (e.g. peak oxygen uptake, oxygen uptake kinetics) and anaerobic metabolism (e.g. in vivo measures of muscle energetic using 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy, indirect performance measures), body fat measures, strength, lung function and physical activity of healthy children, and are keen to extend our research and to work with clinicians and sick children.

Our Centre and laboratories

Clinicians and medical researchers are most welcome to visit our Centre and laboratories. We have extensive equipment/instrumentation including:

  • ergometers, metabolic carts
  • microvascular function laboratory
  • body composition suite
  • environmental chamber
  • DEXA scanner
  • access to the MRI/MRS centre (on St Luke’s Campus)

Recent research

Recent examples of our research include:

  • microvascular function, aerobic exercise and type 2 diabetics (publications in Diabetologia)
  • exercise stress testing and prognosis in children with cystic fibrosis (publications in Pediatric Pulmonology, Journal of Cystic Fibrosis, International Journal of Pediatrics)
  • visceral fat patterning in children (publications in Obesity Research and Acta Paediatrica).
  • bone health and young adolescent athletes (publications in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and European Journal of Applied Physiology).

Other ongoing and recent projects

Other ongoing and recent projects with a sports performance focus include:

  • A longitudinal, collaborative research programme investigating cardiac function in healthy children and elite young adolescent athletes.
  • A three year investigation into non-functional overreaching/overtraining syndrome funded by the ESRC examining health and well-being of young adolescent runners.
  • Focusing on children’s physical and mental well-being during dinghy sailing, which is funded by the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation charity.
  • Several on-going projects investigating fundamental and basic science questions concerning muscle metabolism during exercise and exercise tolerance.
  • Examination of psychological, perceptual and physiological responses to high-intensity interval exercise in adolescents.

Indicative papers are published in Journal of Applied Physiology, NMR in Biomedicine, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism and European journal of Applied Physiology. Conference dissemination has occurred at the meetings for the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM), the American College of Sports Medicine and the European College of Sport Science.


We would welcome further enquiries and discussions on any proposed collaborative research projects. For those interested please contact Prof. Craig Williams.