New Resource: Chronic Exercise-Induced Cardio-Respiratory Adaptations

posted Jun 30, 2017, 5:28 AM by Ben Jane

Anyone interested in improving performance, whether it be for sport or for general everyday living, should take an interest in the underlying factors that limit performance and the potential that these factors have for improvement.

Why the need for understanding the physiological adaptations?

An understanding of how various aspects of our physiology adapt when placed under conditions of stress can allow a coach or exercise professional to construct an exercise programme that will create the right level of stress and overload to elicit positive adaptations and improve fitness yet limit subsequent levels of unwanted fatigue. 

There are lots of good exercise physiology textbooks that cover this topic however they aren't available to everyone and vary in the levels of ease with which they communicate the subject knowledge. After teaching on a number of courses where I thought student's levels of understanding could be improved I've put this resource page together. It's been produced in a way that I hope is accessible to those who just need key exercise physiology knowledge yet also contains content that can extend and support more advanced students.

The full resource page can be accessed at

(Re) Naming and (Re) Framing NCDs

posted Jun 22, 2017, 8:10 AM by Ben Jane   [ updated Jun 23, 2017, 12:58 AM ]

The term "Non-Communicable Disease" or NCD is used in a wide range of public health settings and refers to a medical condition or disease that is not caused by infectious agents. It is however, a group of conditions that the public health community has had mixed success in addressing.

In this month's edition of The Lancet Global Health, Luke Allen and Andrea Feigl have presented their work on the renaming of NCDs and the idea that a new name could have a positive effect on the ability to make more significant in-roads in reducing the prevalence of a wide range of diseases.

The idea is presented that the term "non-communicable disease" makes it hard for policy makers and the general public to fully comprehend the range of social influences on their own health and that of others.

Reframing Non-Communicable Diseases as Socially Transmitted Conditions (SCTs)

The authors highlight the core characteristics of all NCDs pointing out the levels of global burden, the preventable nature of NCDs and the various risk factors and determinants. 

They also highlight the increasing awareness of commercial influence and socioeconomic inequalities that are best addressed at political and strategic levels rather than focussing solely on aspects of personal control and behaviour and advocate shifting the focus of interventions further upstream (see image below for an example from Let's Get Healthy California)

"STCs are driven by urbanisation, industrialisation, and poverty, the availability of tobacco, alcohol, and processed foods, and physical inactivity. STCs also share a common set of solutions focused on addressing the complex and often unjust structure of society"
(Allen & Feigl, 2017)

To read the paper and to review the discussions that informed and underpinned it see the link below.

Read the paper here

Allen, L. N., & Feigl, A. B. (2017). Reframing non-communicable diseases as socially transmitted conditions. The Lancet Global Health, 5(7), e644-e646.

New Resource: Exercise Programming

posted Jun 13, 2017, 6:56 AM by Ben Jane   [ updated Jun 13, 2017, 6:58 AM ]

Across all three years of undergraduate study I work with students that need to develop their ability to write effective exercise programmes. For some, it's about working with high-performance athletes and producing a detailed yearly plan and for others they might be working with a client that's interested in going to the gym or exercising at home to stay fit for life in general.

Either way, those inexperienced with writing programmes often find it difficult to know where to start, what to include and how to balance variety and interest with consistency and focus. 

All too often, we find that students get a number of the basics wrong and for many, even the initial presentation and organisation is not conducive to producing anything of a particularly high standard. Many beginner programmes are over-complicating, and as Mike Boyle so eloquently put it in his latest book, too many people are trying to think outside the box before mastering the box itself

In order to try and support this stage of professional development, and along with Ben Anniss, a colleague of mine, we've put together this resources page that includes several planning templates, a number of key papers that should help with the underpinning theories of planning and links to relevant pages on my website.

Please let me know if you find it useful.


Book Review: Athletic Movement Skills

posted Mar 4, 2017, 11:51 PM by Ben Jane   [ updated Mar 5, 2017, 1:44 AM ]

Click to hide.When it comes to Strength & Conditioning books, Human Kinetics has been on good form recently with Mike Boyle’s updated Functional Training For Sport, Nick Tumminello’s Building Muscle and Performance, and Brad Schoenfeld’s Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy all finding a place on my shelf next to Dan Lewindon and David Joyce’s 2014 title, High-Performance Training for Sports (see my review here).

It seems that they still have more to give though as this month sees the release of another title to add to this list in Clive Brewer’s Athletic Movement Skills: Training for Sports Performance, a book that sets out to “present proven protocols for evaluating, correcting, training and translating athletic movement to athletic dominance”.

With over 400 pages, it's the biggest of the books mentioned above but is still great value CPD at just over £20. It contains many practical examples and activities that can be used by coaches at all levels and there are some informative tables and figures that I can see myself using to help my students develop programs for their own clients (see below: p321) (I included this as I found some of the excerpts on the HK website somewhat uninspiring).
There’s a great panel in Mike Boyle’s new version of Functional Training that’s titled “There’s a reason there’s a box” [p58] and in it he recommends constraining the use of out-of-the-box thinking in emerging professionals, at least until they start to know what’s in the box in the first place. In this way Brewer’s book will help in allowing both new and established coaches to soak up some of the hard won knowledge of the experienced coach/author.

It took me a few minutes to get over the slightly self-indulgent foreword of Loren Seagrave and there are a few sections in the first half of the book that made me wonder who the book was designed for. Sections on motor units, levers and muscle structure can be found in many intro texts and although fundamental to the work of a coach I would imagine many readers flicking past those sections having already covered this content elsewhere. Beyond those sections the book has lots of good practical session content and guiding principles to consider. Brewer’s knowledge of platform based Strength & Conditioning work is evident throughout but is very much balanced with other areas of conditioning and coaching work appropriately illustrating the need for a more blurred line approach to the coach-conditioner job roles.

I felt like I was gaining more novel insights as the book progressed and the last two chapters, “Developing functional strength progressions”, and “Applying principles in practice” contained many good schematics and guiding principles that I’ll be using myself or recommending to students.

Brewer returns to the principle of “training the movement rather than the specific muscles” throughout, echoing Verkoshansky at one point in emphasising that the fundamental phenomenon central to all sporting tasks is movement. With that in mind, this new book should be of great use to those involved in the physical preparation of athletes by helping to bridge the gap between the areas of strength & conditioning and sports coaching, two areas that are often treated as being more exclusive to each other than they should be. 

BJ - 5/3/17

Disruptive Public Health & Corporate Influence

posted Feb 19, 2017, 11:57 AM by Ben Jane   [ updated Feb 20, 2017, 10:50 AM ]

Take an interest in the determinants of and potential solutions to ill health and you'll soon encounter a number of political and ethical issues. Research findings that threaten profits or jobs, dubious partnerships with large corporations or new research that threatens existing knowledge and beliefs. All are in some way disruptive to an existing status quo and all give us an insight into the complexities of how modern science works and it's subsequent impact in wider society.

This post is a collection of resources that have crossed my path in recent months and seem to complement each other (and I haven't had time during this mid-semester period to give them individual attention in the form of their own blogposts!).

1. Professor Hendryx vs. Big Coal - A Freakonomics podcast episode

What happens when a public-health researcher deep in coal country argues that mountaintop mining endangers the entire community? Find out here. 

An interview that explains the basics of public health epidemiology and how a community might respond to those findings.

2. John Arnold Made a Fortune at Enron. Now He’s Declared War on Bad Science
Reading this article was like that moment in The Usual Suspects when you realise that Keyser Soze was responsible for everything that had gone before. Brian Nosek's reproducibility projectJohn Ioannidis' work, Ben Goldacre's Open Prescribing project, and Nina Teicholz have all benefited from the patronage of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and this long article explains how these relationships all came about. John Arnold was a Wall St trader and after making a large amount of money took early retirement from the world of finance and set up a foundation with his wife that aims to disrupt the way that science traditionally interacts and contributes to society. 

3. Prof Stephen Blair told me "that's capitalism"
Last month I attended a conference in Cardiff and was lucky enough to see Prof. Steven N. Blair speak once again. Having seen him at the same conference three or four years ago I was keen to see how he would deal with the Coca-Cola issue that came to a head in 2015 in the New York Times.  

I sent the link to this article to my students prior to our attendance as I wanted them to understand any nuances or subtle mentions that might be made during the day and because above all, as a lecturer I strive to develop the skills and abilities in my students that are associated with critical analysis.

It became increasingly obvious that Prof. Blair was not going to mention anything about it in his presentation and in response to his contention that the only cause of obesity was widespread inactivity, and not dietary changes my students were becoming noticeably agitated, and I could see one of them frantically googling articles online; critical analysis personified. A very proud lecturer. 

Subsequently, one of my best students asked the Professor a question from the floor about the funding of research, specifically mentioning Coca-Cola and in response Prof. Blair was quite vocal and forthright. We also had a chat with him afterwards and in between his emphasis on the validity of his work (something that I wouldn't question and also emphasised this to my students) he said something that really stood out. We discussed the funding of research and the potential for bias and he said that that was just the way it was, "that's capitalism". I guess I was naive in expecting some form of epiphany on the professors part however the clarity with which his response was given was still a shock to me (see No. 5 below).

4. When Public Health Scientists get hacked
Mexico is an important market for the global food and drink brands and has been a battleground between many corporations and public health advocates. Free trade legislation such as NAFTA has greatly influenced the flow of products between the US and their South American neighbours and with less well developed public health legislation in place the global food brands have been accused of a more ruthless approach to the marketing of their products. In response, public health advocates are galvanising their work and attempting to advocate more vocally about the impact of these changes in the food systems and this week the New York Times published a story about how a number of public health advocates had been targeted by hackers in attempts to try and deter their efforts.  

5. Lethal but Legal by Nicholas Freudenberg
"In 1980, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously observed, "There is no alternative" to free market capitalism. To shake the belief that the status quo is inevitable and to pose credible alternatives will require challenging this ideological power of the corporate consumption complex" (Lethal but Legal, p125)

I really enjoyed this book which outlines the way in which six industries (food, tobacco, pharma, gun and auto) seek to influence our lifestyle choices and the solutions that are needed to face up to these challenges. 

“A superb, magnificently written, courageous, and compelling exposé of how corporations enrich themselves at the expense of public health—and how we can organize to counter corporate power and achieve a healthier and more sustainable food environment. This should be required reading for anyone who cares about promoting health, protecting democratic institutions, and achieving a more equitable and just society.”
–Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University; author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.

Click here to see a panel that includes Marion Nestle and Nicholas Freudenberg discussing the book 

Where is the Public Health Responsibility Deal?

posted Dec 27, 2016, 1:23 PM by Ben Jane   [ updated Jan 4, 2017, 1:50 AM ]

The Public Health Responsibility Deal (RD) was set up in 2011 as a public–private partnership that involved voluntary pledges between industry, government and other stakeholders and was designed to improve public health by changing the environment in which people made decisions about certain health related behaviours. 

It was a policy developed by the Cameron-Clegg coalition government (although it's origins can be traced back to Tony Blair's speech on public health in 2006*), and there has been a distinct lack of action or official comment in this area since March, 2015 when the previous administration was winding down. 

In 3 months time, it will be 2 whole years without any official comment on how successful the RD was and the current situation will therefore exist within the following scenarios:

  • The RD was a great success, yet has been left to wander untended for nearly two years,
  • The RD was a failure, yet this has not been acknowledged, and the public have not been told what lessons were learnt and how these have been implemented subsequently,
  • Aspects of the RD worked, yet the public have not been told what lessons were learnt and how these have been implemented subsequently,
There have, however, been independent reviews of the RD's impact covering physical activity (Sept, 2015: Knai et al, 2015a), food (July, 2015: Knai et al, 2015c), alcohol (March, 2015: Knai et al, 2015b), and workplace health (June, 2016: Knai et al, 2016), yet still no comment from politicians past or present.

Maybe it's because these evaluations came to the conclusion that the RD had been largely ineffectual suggesting that in most domains pledges focused on minimally effective interventions, progress reports were limited and vague and that very few of the actions cited as part of the pledges were anything different from those that would have occurred had the RD not been implemented. As long ago as mid 2013, Panjwani and Caraher looked into the RD and concluded that,

"The Responsibility Deal approach is fundamentally flawed in its expectation that industry will take voluntary actions that prioritise public health interests above its own. Being government-led counts for little in the absence of sanctions to drive compliance. Instead the initiative affords private interests the opportunity to influence in their favour the public health policies and strategies that affect their products."

What now?

At some point, a politician should be made to respond to the independent evaluations and subsequent comments from the media and public health advocates. In theory, we're now under a new administration which presents an opportunity to blame its failure on someone else; the problem is that the new administration is pretty similar to the last one. It's a shame the RD hasn't been officially ended and reviewed though, I’m sure one of the signatories would be more than willing to pay for a party (as long as it can be branded and there’s media opportunities).

Politicians hate a policy void and it would be particularly difficult to bring attention to the end of the RD without having a plan to replace it. The recent development of the childhood obesity strategy addresses some aspects of the food and physical activity environment however, this is bearing all the similar hallmarks of a project that has the potential for real change yet is being influenced by the lobbying powers of large food corporations.

Will we even miss it?

It’s clear from the evaluations that the RD has fallen short of being a particularly effective public health initiative and as de Andrade and Hastings (2016) identified, it increasingly resembled the perfect example of stakeholder marketing where far from achieving its public health aims, it had too many positive outcomes for the businesses in question such as co-opting critics, recruiting allies, creating a health halo around a brand and redirecting consumers to alternate lines of product that are often more profitable. Far from changing the environment to improve public health, at worst it could have helped many businesses sell more product than they would have otherwise and at best it acted as a smoke screen preventing more robust actions from being taken.

So maybe we shouldn't lament it's passing. We should however be able to hear the government's response to the independent evaluations and to hear how future initiatives will be informed by the experience of the RD. It would make sense to have this conversation before future initiatives such as the childhood obesity strategy were signed off, however I suspect this may not be the case.

[* My thanks go to @davidjbuck, of The King's Fund for pointing out the omission of the Blair influence in my original text - 4/1/17]


de Andrade, M. & Hastings, G. (2016) Stakeholder marketing and the subversion of public health. In Spotswood, F., (Ed.) Beyond Behaviour Change: Key Issues, Interdisciplinary Approaches and Future Directions. Bristol: Policy Press, 181–198.

Knai, C., Petticrew, M., Scott, C., Durand, M.A., Eastmure, E., James, L., Mehrotra, A. & Mays, N. (2015a) Getting England to be more physically active: are the Public Health Responsibility Deal’s physical activity pledges the answer? The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Vol. 12, No. 1: 107: pp. . [Online] Available from:

Knai, C., Petticrew, M., Durand, M. A., Eastmure, E., & Mays, N. (2015b). Are the Public Health Responsibility Deal alcohol pledges likely to improve public health? An evidence synthesis. Addiction, 110(8), 1232-1246.

Knai, C., Petticrew, M., Durand, M. A., Eastmure, E., James, L., Mehrotra, A., ... & Mays, N. (2015c). Has a public–private partnership resulted in action on healthier diets in England? An analysis of the Public Health Responsibility Deal food pledges. Food Policy, 54, 1-10.

Knai, C., Scott, C., D'Souza, P., James, L., Mehrotra, A., Petticrew, M., ... & Mays, N. (2016). The Public Health Responsibility Deal: making the workplace healthier?. Journal of Public Health, fdw047.

Panjwani, C., & Caraher, M. (2014). The Public Health Responsibility Deal: brokering a deal for public health, but on whose terms?. Health Policy, 114(2), 163-173.

Further Reading

Bryden, A., Petticrew, M., Mays, N., Eastmure, E., & Knai, C. (2013). Voluntary agreements between government and business—a scoping review of the literature with specific reference to the Public Health Responsibility Deal. Health Policy, 110(2), 186-197.

Dept of Health (2011) The Public Health Responsibility Deal: Monitoring and evaluation pack

Durand, M. A., Petticrew, M., Goulding, L., Eastmure, E., Knai, C., & Mays, N. (2015). An evaluation of the Public Health Responsibility Deal: Informants’ experiences and views of the development, implementation and achievements of a pledge-based, public–private partnership to improve population health in England. Health Policy, 119(11), 1506-1514. 

Gilmore, A. B., Savell, E., & Collin, J. (2011). Public health, corporations and the new responsibility deal: promoting partnerships with vectors of disease?. Journal of Public Health, 33(1), 2-4.

Glasgow, S., & Schrecker, T. (2015). The double burden of neoliberalism? Noncommunicable disease policies and the global political economy of risk. Health & place, 34, 279-286

Hastings, G. (2012). Why corporate power is a public health priority.BMJ, 345(7871), 26-29.

He, F. J., Brinsden, H. C., & MacGregor, G. A. (2014). Salt reduction in the United Kingdom: a successful experiment in public health. Journal of human hypertension, 28(6), 345-352.

Hernandez-Aguado, I., & Zaragoza, G. A. (2016). Support of public–private partnerships in health promotion and conflicts of interest. BMJ open, 6(4), e009342.

Instutue for Alcohol Studies (2016)  Dead on Arrival? Evaluating the Public Health Responsibility Deal for Alcohol

Lobstein, T., & Brinsden, H. (2014). Symposium report: the prevention of obesity and NCDs: challenges and opportunities for governments. Obesity Reviews, 15(8), 630-639.

Mindell, J.S., Reynolds, L., Cohen, D.L. & McKee, M. (2012) All in this together: the corporate capture of public health. BMJ. Vol. 345, No. December: e8082–e8082: pp. . [Online] Available from:

Petticrew, M., Eastmure, E., Mays, N., Knai, C., Durand, M. A., & Nolte, E. (2013). The Public Health Responsibility Deal: how should such a complex public health policy be evaluated?. Journal of Public Health, 35(4), 495-501.

Popkin, B. M., & Kenan, W. R. (2016). Preventing type 2 diabetes: Changing the food industry. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Rayner, G. (2015) Policy Briefing: Political Rhetoric, Corporate Responsibility and Contested Bodies [Online] Available from: [accessed 4/1/17]

Swinburn, B., Kraak, V., Rutter, H., Vandevijvere, S., Lobstein, T., Sacks, G., ... & Magnusson, R. (2015). Strengthening of accountability systems to create healthy food environments and reduce global obesity. The Lancet, 385(9986), 2534-2545.

The Guardian (20th Aug, 2016) Will the government's new childhood obesity strategy have any effect?

Public Health Reading List

posted Nov 2, 2016, 10:05 AM by Ben Jane   [ updated Dec 20, 2016, 6:55 AM ]

This website has mirrored my own journey from being focused solely on physical activity to much broader public health issues and as such I've been working on this reading list that I intend you use as a supplement to more official public health module reading recommendations.

My original list has been improved significantly thanks to a number of generous twitter contributors and my thanks go out to Harry Rutter, Mark Petticrew, Ash Paul, Piers Simey and Anne Murphy for getting involved.

If readers of this list have any other titles that they think might be suitable additions then I would encourage you to let me know via twitter (@benjanefitness) or by email (

(update...4/11/16...thanks to all of those that RT'd this tweet and further thanks to the following people that also contributed to this list...@rkfmiller @jonny1990 @C_rouzell and @sridhartweet. Check out Sridhar's complementary list here as well)

The List*

Antanovsky, A. (1987). Unravelling the Mystery of Health. Jossey-Boss

Boseley, S. (2014). The Shape We're in: How Junk Food and Diets are Shortening Our Lives. Faber & Faber.

Carson, R. (2002). Silent spring. Penguin Classics

Cederström, C., & Spicer, A. (2015). The Wellness Syndrome. John Wiley & Sons.

Colgrove, J. (2011). Epidemic City: The Politics of Public Health in New York. Russell Sage Foundation.

Dorling, D. (2015). Injustice: Why social inequality still persists. Policy Press.

Freudenberg, N. (2014). Lethal but legal: corporations, consumption, and protecting public health. Oxford University Press [added 20/12/16 - BJ]

Garrett, L. (2003). Betrayal of trust: the collapse of global public health. Oxford University Press

Goldacre, B. (2010). Bad science: quacks, hacks, and big pharma flacks. McClelland & Stewart.

Halpern, D. (2015). Inside the Nudge Unit: How small changes can make a big difference. Random House.

Johnson, S. (2006). The ghost map: The story of London's most terrifying epidemic--and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world. Penguin.

Keshavjee, M. S. (2014). Blind spot: how neoliberalism infiltrated global health. Univ of California Press.

Kessler, D. A. (2001). A question of intent: A great American battle with a deadly industry. Public Affairs.

Kidder, T. (2003). Mountains beyond mountains: healing the world: the quest of Dr. Paul Farmer. Random House

Marmot, M. (2004). Status Syndrome: How Your Social Standing Directly Affects Your Health and Life Expectancy. Bloomsbury

Marmot, M. (2015). The health gap: the challenge of an unequal world. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Meadows, D. (2012). Thinking in systems: a primer. Chelsea Green Publishing Co

McCartney, M. (2016) The State of Medicine: Keeping the Promise of the NHS. Pinter & Martin

Moss, M. (2013). Salt, sugar, fat: how the food giants hooked us. Random House.

Nestle, M. (2015). Soda politics: taking on big soda (and winning). Oxford University Press, USA.

Palmer, G. (2009). The politics of breastfeeding: when breasts are bad for business. Pinter & Martin Publishers.

Farmer, P. (2004). Pathologies of power: Health, human rights, and the new war on the poor. Univ of California Press.

Pisani, E. (2010). The wisdom of whores: Bureaucrats, brothels and the business of AIDS. Granta Books.

Rayner, G., & Lang, T. (2012). Ecological public health: reshaping the conditions for good health. Routledge.

Rhodes, J. (2013). The end of plagues: the global battle against infectious disease. Macmillan.

Roberts, I., & Edwards, P. (2010). The energy glut: the politics of fatness in an overheating world. Zed Books Limited.

Schrecker, T., & Bambra, C. (2015). How politics makes us sick: Neoliberal epidemics. Springer.

Shilts, R. (2007). And the band played on: Politics, people, and the AIDS epidemic, 20th-anniversary edition. Macmillan.

Thompson, M (2016) Enough Said: What's gone wrong with the language of politics? Bodley Head

Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008) Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Penguin

Wilkinson, R., & Pickett, K. (2010). The spirit level: why equality is better for everyone. Penguin UK.

* There are plenty of good textbooks around and my institutional reading lists include many of these. This list is intended to be a list of affordable, readable titles that can inform and educate across a range of public health sub-disciplines.

* Many of the titles on the list are relevant and contemporary yet there are a few older titles that have earned their place by being recommended or repeatedly cited as being important in the field. 

* I haven't read all of them, part of the purpose of creating this list was to build my own reading wishlist. I hope you find it useful, too.

HEPA Europe 2016: My Summary

posted Oct 10, 2016, 3:13 AM by Ben Jane   [ updated Oct 15, 2016, 12:51 PM ]

The 12th Annual Meeting of HEPA Europe was held in Belfast, 28-30 September, 2016, and I went along to find out more about some of the latest health and physical activity work that's happening across Europe and to present research that Kass Gibson and I had completed. 

This is a brief summary of my take-home points from the conference.

Researchers need to move on

Prof Adrian Bauman took the opening keynote address and using a series of examples made the point that too much research is being undertaken in areas in which we already know many of the answers. In order to make a real difference there needs to be more collaboration between researchers, practitioners and policy makers and the area that researchers should focus more on is that of implementation and the scaling-up of projects. 

Domhnall MacAuley, CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, has written a blog about this keynote and there’s also a short video of Prof Bauman where he's summarised his main points.

Related Reading

Kite, J., Indig, D., Mihrshahi, S., Milat, A., & Bauman, A. (2015). Assessing the usefulness of systematic reviews for policymakers in public health: a case study of overweight and obesity prevention interventions. Preventive Medicine, 81, 99-107. 

Brownson, R. C., Royer, C., Ewing, R., & McBride, T. D. (2006). Researchers and policymakers: travelers in parallel universes. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30(2), 164-172. 

Reis, R. S., Salvo, D., Ogilvie, D., Lambert, E. V., Goenka, S., Brownson, R. C., & Lancet Physical Activity Series 2 Executive Committee. (2016). Scaling up physical activity interventions worldwide: stepping up to larger and smarter approaches to get people moving. The Lancet, 388(10051), 1337-1348.

We should Walk more

Prof Catrine Tudor-Locke gave a keynote that was a master class in walking and pedometers and in which she presented the findings of many of her studies. She used two graphics (shown below) that I'll definitely be using when trying to advise people on appropriate levels of activity for health. 

Tudor-Locke, C., & Schuna Jr, J. M. (2012). Steps to preventing type 2 diabetes: exercise, walk more, or sit less?. Frontiers in endocrinology, 3, 142.

Tudor-Locke, C., Craig, C. L., Thyfault, J. P., & Spence, J. C. (2012). A step-defined sedentary lifestyle index:< 5000 steps/day. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism, 38(2), 100-114.

Tudor-Locke, C., & Rowe, D. A. (2012). Using cadence to study free-living ambulatory behaviour. Sports Medicine, 42(5), 381-398. 

The negative effects of sitting can be moderated by more intense activity 

In July, 2016, The Lancet published the special edition, "Physical Activity 2016, Progress and Challenges", which included a landmark study that was produced by a group of researchers from around the world brought together under the guise of The Lancet Sedentary Behaviour Working Group. Prof Ulf Ekelund led this team and at the conference he explained how the study required all those with relevant information to revisit existing data and harmonise it so that it could be pooled together more effectively. A key figure from the study is shown below and demonstrates that those who perform high levels of moderate intensity activity (60-75 min/day) seem to eliminate the increased risk of death associated with high sitting time (the group on the left is the most active in terms of MVPA and the grouping on the right the least active in terms of MVPA). This was great news for me, and means that on those days that I find myself tethered to my desk I can sleep well in the knowledge that my cycle commute to and from work is reducing the impact of that sedentary behaviour.  

Full Article
Ekelund, U., Steene-Johannessen, J., Brown, W. J., Fagerland, M. W., Owen, N., Powell, K. E., ... & Lancet Sedentary Behaviour Working Group. (2016). Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women. The Lancet, 388(10051),1302-1310. 

Planning is key

There was a recurring theme throughout the conference for me and that was that the most successful projects had all given an extensive amount of time and effort to the planning process. They had engaged with the theories that underpinned the proposed behaviour change but in particular they had fully engaged with the populations that the intervention was designed to address.

Jennie Price, CEO of SportEngland, talked through the development of the highly successful "This Girl Can" campaign and it was clear that its success down to the amount of research and engagement that took place to establish what barriers and facilitators existed in the target population. She showed the video below and after hearing the story of how the team got to this point, there was a well deserved, spontaneous applause from all in the conference room.

Other examples of excellent planning were shown by Kelly Mackintosh (3D printing project), Barry Lambe (Active Travel) and Lindsey Reece (MoveMore Sheffield) among others.

Twitter is great for conferences

I love what twitter has to offer in terms of network building and information exchange and during a conference it can be even more useful for making connections both within and beyond the conference hall. HEPA 2016 was no exception and I think it was one of the best twitter environments of any physical activity conference that I have been aware of. I was able to meet up in person with many people that I follow on twitter, some old friends and many new, and I would say to anyone that doesn't see the point in social media that the friendships established within it can be very real and in time quite productive professionally.

The amount of tweeting from a wide range of delegates was fantastic and means that if you are interested in finding out more about the conference you can scroll through the feed #HEPAEurope2016 here or see everyone's photos here.

I should also declare a note of interest in this review. I was awarded the accolade of "Best Conference Tweeter", something I was quite proud of considering how many people were tweeting from the event. Prior to receiving this accolade I had had many conversations about the use of twitter and I got the sense that good conference tweeting is about adding value to what's being presented from the stage. There's definitely a place for documenting what's going on in picture and text form but other delegate tweeters also seemed appreciative of questions and comments from the floor via twitter, links to articles mentioned by the speakers and other content that complemented the conference presentations.  

Good presentations tell a story

Conferences are an opportunity to see the variety of ways that people can present their work. The standard of research and presentations was excellent at HEPA 2016 and I learnt a lot. Watching so many people in just a few days reinforced an important piece of advice that I was once given about presenting at academic conferences and that is that above all else, it needs to tell a good story. 

The best presentations that I saw, and which inspired me the most were ones in which the presenters engaged with the audience the most and who had the strongest sense of narrative. I can always appreciate the intricacies and details of a good methods section and I love a graph as much as the next person but when presenting work verbally in a room full of people it's the story that counts for me and the value that can be added to published work rather than describing every detail as if each section is as important as the next. 

Many of the presentations and posters have been posted on the Open Science Framework and can be found here

Conflicts of interest are problematic

I presented the work that Kass GIbson and I have been doing on Corporate Sponsorship of physical activity schemes and I've posted more about that work elsewhere on this website and below I've re-posted the office-based version of my presentation.

The topic seemed to be of interest to many of the delegates and I had many enlightening conversations about similar projects and funding scenarios that did nothing but fuel my enthusiasm for further research and advocacy. Many of the delegates hadn't considered the full extent of the problems that can arise from corporate sponsorship but there were also many that were well aware of the motives of the Big Food Companies.  How we can turn this level of awareness into action is a matter for another day...

Thanks, Belfast and Zagreb, here we come!

Thanks to Prof Marie Murphy, Dr Mark Tully and all of their hard-working colleagues in Belfast for a great conference. The people of Belfast also need a mention as well. Rarely have I been anywhere that so many random people struck up conversations with me or helped me find my way around when I needed help. 

To find out more about other HEPA conferences click here and to find out more about HEPA 2017 in Zagreb click here.

10 Sources of Psychological Myths

posted Oct 2, 2016, 2:54 AM by Ben Jane   [ updated Oct 3, 2016, 4:46 AM ]

I'm always on the look out for reading that can help students develop their abilities to think critically. Recently I found this great book by Lillienfeld at al (2010) that gives a whirlwind tour of a wide range of myths in areas that include cognition, ageing, memory, consciousness, personality and behaviour.

Lilienfeld, S. O., Lynn, S. J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B. L. (2011). 50 great myths of popular psychology: Shattering widespread misconceptions about human behavior. John Wiley & Sons.[google books]

In the introduction there's a section on how these myths are perpetuated and here I include a synopsis of the author's 10 sources of error. To read it in full I'd encourage you to get a copy of the book and look at this section in full before you read around the 50 myths themselves.

1) Word of Mouth

The fact that we’ve heard a claim repeated again and again doesn't make it any more correct than it actually is. Repetition does however increase the likelihood that we might believe it.

2) Desire for easy answers and quick fixes

If something sounds to good to be true it probably is (Sagan, 1995)

3) Selective perception and memory

The mistaken assumption that we see the world precisely is called naive realism (Ross & Ward, 1996). We're vulnerable to myths but naive realism also makes it hard for us to realise that we are vulnerable. See also Illusory correlation (Chapman & Chapman, 1967).

Example: Autism and vaccination

4) Inferring causation from correlation

When two variables are correlated we shouldn't necessarily assume a direct causal relationship

5) Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc reasoning

“After this,therefore because of this”...Similar to the difference between causation and correlation, just because one thing occurs first, it doesn't mean that it had to be the cause of the phenomenon that follows it.

6) Exposure to a biased sample

The opinions and judgements of an individual will be partly based on their previous experiences. If you spend the majority of your time working with a particular population (eg police, lawyers, prison officers) you may be more likely to make erroneous judgements based on this. Similarly, if the news we are exposed to in the media only includes groups of people when they are "newsworthy" our opinions of the rest of that community will be influenced accordingly.

eg Mental illness and violence, Islam and terrorism, Catholic priests and child abuse

7) Reasoning by Representativeness

The Representativeness Heuristic (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974) allows us to evaluate the similarity between two things on the basis of their superficial resemblance to each other. This can often be a good thing but sometimes leads us astray.

8) MIsleading films and media portrayals

Many psychological phenomenon are often portrayed inaccurately in the media.

Eg Electro-convulsive therapy, autism and high performance skills

9) Exaggeration of a kernel of truth

Some psychological myths aren't entirely false but are exaggerations of the truth.

eg Opposites attract, We only use 10% of our brains.

10) Terminological confusion

Some psychological terms have been misinterpreted and simplified once they come into the realm of the general population and media. As an example, schizophrenia doesn't mean that people have two personalities although the term itself literally means “split minds”. Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, originally used the term to refer to a splitting of mental function for example, the fact that thoughts might not correspond to feelings. See also Hypnosis and sleep.

The 50 myths themselves are all very readable and beyond the myths themselves should help students better understand the complexities of science, the importance of good communication and how to improve that most illusive of academic skills; critical analysis. Examples of some of the myths include: The more people present at an emergency the greater chance someone will intervene; if you're unsure when taking a test, its best to go with your initial hunch; the fact that a trait is heritable means that we cant change it, and many more.

HEPA Europe 2016: Big Food Sponsorship of Physical Activity Schemes

posted Sep 20, 2016, 4:18 AM by Ben Jane   [ updated Oct 10, 2016, 8:47 AM ]

The HEPA Europe Conference was held 28th-30th of September, 2016 at Queens University, Belfast. As part of the conference I delivering an oral presentation of a study that my colleague, Kass Gibson and I have been working on.

The study made use of a content analysis of the twitter feed #ParkLives to explore the extent that ParkLives is being used to market the brand to children and to consider how the wider socio-ecological environment might be influenced. Personal lifestyle choices, such as the food and drink we consume are heavily influenced by the choices that are put in front of us and Corporate Social Responsibility projects such as ParkLives could be used to recruit allies, co-opt critics and direct opinion on the determinants of a range of public health issues away from corporate influence and toward personal responsibility.

This page contains a version of the oral presentation and links to related articles
(you can find out what happened in the rest of the conference, via twitter here). 


Berkman, L. F., Kawachi, I., & Glymour, M. M. (Eds.). (2014). Social epidemiology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brownell, K. D., & Warner, K. E. (2009). The perils of ignoring history: Big tobacco played dirty and millions died. How similar is big food. Milbank Quarterly, 87(1), 259–294.

Du, S., Bhattacharya, C. B., & Sen, S. (2010). Maximizing business returns to corporate social responsibility (CSR): The role of CSR communication. International Journal of Management Reviews,12(1), 8–19.

Hastings, G., & de Andrade, M. (2016). Stakeholder marketing and the subversion of public health. In F. Spotswood (Ed.), Beyond Behaviour Change: Key Issues, Interdisciplinary Approaches and Future Directions (pp. 181–198). Bristol: Policy Press.

Herrick, C. (2009). Shifting blame/selling health: Corporate social responsibility in the age of obesity. Sociology of Health and Illness, 31(1), 51–65.

Leone, L., Ling, T., Baldassarre, L., Barnett, L. M., Capranica, L., & Pesce, C. (2015). Corporate responsibility for childhood physical activity promotion in the UK. Health Promotion International, 1–14. doi: 10.1093/heapro/dav051

Peloza, J., Ye, C., & Montford, W. J. (2015). When Companies Do Good, Are Their Products Good for You? How Corporate Social Responsibility Creates a Health Halo. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 34(1), 19–31.

Phoenix, C. (2010). Seeing the world of physical culture: the potential of visual methods for qualitative research in sport and exercise. Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 2(2), 93-108.

Rose, G. (2016). Visual methodologies: An introduction to researching with visual materials. London: Sage.

Schrecker, T. (2013). Can health equity survive epidemiology? Standards of proof and social determinants of health. Preventive Medicine, 57(6), 741-744.

Yoon, S., & Lam, T.-H. (2013). The illusion of righteousness:corporate social responsibility practices of the alcohol industry. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 630.

Further Reading

McCartney, M. (2014). Is Coca-Cola’s antiobesity scheme the real thing?.BMJ;349:g4340

Gómez, L., Jacoby, E., Ibarra, L., Lucumí, D., Hernandez, A., Parra, D., … Hallal, P. (2011). Sponsorship of physical activity programs by the sweetened beverages industry: public health or public relations? Revista de Saúde Pública, 45(2), 423–427.

Coca-Cola (8th September, 2016) "Members of Parliament enjoy special ParkLives session from Coca-Cola GB to celebrate second year report"

UKActive's relationship with Coca-Cola GB

UK Active ParkLives evaluations, year 1 & 2

Similar CSR Schemes

ParkLives - Coca-Cola

Belfast Bikes - Coca-Cola

Nation's Cup - Danone

Vive Saludable Escuelas - PepsiCo

Kinder+Sport - Kinder

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