Strategic Research Centre: Activity

Physical activity, exercise, sport and recreation promotion for adolescents with cystic fibrosis (CF).

What is it aiming for?

Led by Professor Craig Williams at the University of Exeter, this Strategic Research Centre (SRC) aims to bring together exercise specialists, psychologists, physiotherapists, engineers, clinicians, parents and adolescents to prescribe physical activity more effectively.

In addition, this SRC will recruit and train a cohort of research scientists in order to become the world’s leading advisory group on the dissemination of physical activity promotion for adolescents with CF, clinicians and their support teams, parents, and other associated groups, eg teachers.

Why is it important?

Being more physically active has important benefits for people with cystic fibrosis, such as improved lung function, aerobic fitness and sputum clearance, as well as psychological and social benefits (improved self-confidence, socialisation and self-esteem, for example)

Adolescence can be a turbulent time for people with CF, presenting many challenges that could could cause young people to deviate from their treatment plans. While there is currently little evidence on the amount of physical activity that young people with CF do in comparison with their peers who do not have CF, participation is known to decline during adolescence, particularly in girls, which can continue into adulthood. Reduction in physical activity may have long-term consequences for people with CF; specifically, low levels of physical activity are linked to a greater rate of decline in lung function, and have been associated with an increased hospitalisation over 12 months in adults.

What will it do?

During the course of the SRC’s work, the team will:

  • Investigate the effects of physical activity in adolescents with CF over three years, with regards to exercise intolerance (being able to take part in less physical activity, or lower intensity activity, than expected of someone with CF) and adherence;
  • Determine the psychological and physiological limitations of physical activity in young people with CF, in order to improve its promotion;
  • Produce a novel web-based program (ActivOnline) to promote physical activity participation for use by adolescents and young adults with CF;
  • Provide empirical evidence of physical activity intervention to assess impact on the quality of life for people with CF, hospital admissions rates, drug usage and medical bills, and school and employment attendance.

Who will do it?

Lead Principal Investigator (PI): Professor Craig Williams, University of Exeter (England, UK)


  • Professor Eleanor Main, University College London, Institute of Child Health (England, UK)
  • Professor Anne Holland, La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Dr Jane Scheidermann, The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, Canada)
  • Dr Melitta McNarry, Swansea University (Wales, UK)

Youth Activity Unlimited

Take a look at the University of Exeter's website for the SRC, Youth Activity Unlimited, where you can find out more about the SRC, including the aims of the research, the research team and the other institutions working on the project.

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