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Frailty and sarcopenia in older adults: the role of sedentary behaviour and physical activity

Main aim: This proposed research will explore the role of sedentary behaviour and physical activity in the prevention, progression and/or treatment of frailty and sarcopenia in the ageing population. Sarcopenia is a progressive and generalised loss of muscle mass and muscle function with advancing age. This condition is associated with a range of health problems such as functional disability, falls, unplanned hospital admissions, poor quality of life, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and early death. Sarcopenia is related to the development of frailty, which is characterised by diminished strength, endurance, and physiologic function that increases vulnerability to dependency and death. Older adults are generally highly sedentary and engage in low levels of physical activity, which may be related to an increased risk of sarcopenia and frailty.

Objectives: This PhD programme will enhance our understanding of the relationship of sarcopenia and frailty with sedentary behaviour and physical activity levels with the intention of informing public health and clinical care guidelines to optimise the prevention and management of these conditions. The details of the proposal will be finalised with the PhD applicant. The proposed objectives are to:

  1. Systematically review evidence concerning the relationship of sarcopenia and frailty with sedentary behaviour and physical activity.

  2. Explore the combined effects of reduced sedentary behaviour and increased physical activity on sarcopenia and frailty risk and management.

  3. Develop and test an intervention to improve indicators of sarcopenia and frailty via reductions in sedentary behaviour and increased physical activity.

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%.


Dr 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 leads 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, 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, which is being released in 2020. Dr Bailey is Associate Editor for Frontiers in Public Health, which has an impact factor of 2.483, he is membership rep for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Physical Activity for Health Division, and a member of the scientific committee leadership group 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 in his previous role as Senior Lecturer in Health, Nutrition and Exercise at the University of Bedfordshire he was leader for the BSc (Hons) Health, Nutrition and Exercise programme.