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Reducing sedentary behaviour and increasing physical activity for the prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes

This proposed research will follow a process of intervention development and evaluation targeted at reducing and breaking up sitting time for the prevention and/or management of Type 2 diabetes. There are more than 3 million people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in the UK, which costs the NHS 10% of its annual budget. This disease significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, early death, a host of complications (e.g. neuropathy, retinopathy) and reduces the quality of life. There is emerging evidence that reducing total daily sitting time (i.e. sedentary behaviour) is associated with a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes as well as improved glycaemic control in patients already diagnosed with the disease. There is consistent evidence that breaking up sitting time with short, frequent bouts (e.g. 2 to 5 minutes every 20 to 30 minutes) of light-intensity physical activity improves metabolic biomarkers over the course of a single day. However, healthcare guidelines in the UK do not recommend reducing or breaking up sitting time for prevention or management of Type 2 diabetes due to the lack of research evaluating long-term intervention effectiveness in high-quality study designs.

This PhD will project will address this gap in evidence through the development and evaluation of an intervention aimed at reducing sedentary behaviour and increasing physical activity for the prevention and/or management of Type 2 diabetes. The intervention is likely to include strategies such as phone apps and wearable devices that track sitting behaviour and provide feedback. The details of the proposal will be finalised with the PhD applicant. The project has the following aims:

  1. To systematically review evidence of the relationship between sedentary behaviour and risk of Type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related health outcomes.
  2. To develop an intervention to reduce sedentary behaviour and increase physical activity in people at-risk of or diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
  3. To evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention for the prevention and/or management of Type 2 diabetes.


This project would be well suited to students with a background in sport, health and exercise sciences, physiotherapy, public health, healthcare, biomedical sciences, life sciences or related areas. An MSc qualification is essential.

Please contact Dr Daniel Bailey for an informal discussion and guidance on how to move forward.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Daniel Bailey - Dr Daniel Bailey is a Senior Lecturer in Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences in the Division of Sport, Health and Exercise SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences, and is Co-Director of the Centre for Physical Activity in Health and Disease. He previously established and led the Sedentary Behaviour, Health and Disease Research Group. Dr Bailey's research investigates the relationship between sedentary behaviour and chronic health conditions, with a particular focus on cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. This research includes the epidemiology of sedentary behaviour and association with chronic health risks, rigorously controlled laboratory studies examining the benefits of breaking up prolonged sitting time on markers of health, and the development and evaluation of interventions to reduce sedentary behaviour in a range of population groups at risk of adverse health such as office workers, wheelchair users, older adults and people with Type 2 diabetes. Dr Bailey has been awarded multiple research grants from funding bodies and industry partners to support his research and has published a large number of research articles in the field of sedentary behaviour, physical activity and health. He has delivered multiple conference presentations and invited talks across the UK and Europe and is a Technical Advisor for the Qatar National Physical Activity Guidelines 2nd edition, 2021. Dr Bailey Deputy Chair of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Physical Activity for Health Division, and was a member of the scientific global leadershop committee for the 8th International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) Congress. Dr Bailey has a wealth of experience teaching physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health topics at undergraduate and postgraduate level and uses innovative teaching approaches in his practice including research-informed teaching, bleneded and authentic learning, and flipped classrooms.