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The Institute for Research Excellence in Sport and Exercise (IRESE)

Impact of Research Excellence - Case Studies

The case studies below are the most compelling illustrations of the contribution made by research conducted by IRESE outside academia. They highlight the positive outcomes of the collaborative impact and the breadth of our research strengths:

Developing best practice: Bangor and Cardiff research underpins the professional training, development and support provided by sport coaches and sport science practitioners

This case study reflects the most significant and developed collaboration before the existence of IRESE, and contributed to its emergence and existence. It is based on the work of leading researchers in the field (Hanton, Hardy L, Jones R), as well as others (Callow, Cropley, Kingston, Roberts – and previously Parfitt).  Since 1993, research in service delivery and performance psychology from the IRESE has underpinned the content and provision of professional training and development programmes in the UK and globally. Specifically, since 2008 the research has informed the development and delivery of existing governing body coach education programmes and coach education programmes that are among the first of their kind anywhere in the world. As a result, IRESE has underpinned the content and provision of professional training and development programmes of all UK Sport Science Practitioners pursuing accreditation to work professionally in the UK sport industry and globally.

‘Train in, not select out’: Bangor leadership training model decreased the high wastage rates in British army recruits and improved training practices

The arduous nature of recruit training has resulted in high wastage due to failure or withdrawal, and has always been a problem for the Armed Services. A ten year programme of high quality research (by Arthur, Hardy L – and previously Jones G) funded by and embedded within the Ministry of Defence led to changes in the delivery of training across the three Armed Services (especially the Army), the formation of a new Army training establishment, and a new tri-service monitoring and training body, better mental health in military recruits, and a reductions in wastage rates of up to 15%. Transformational leadership through the Bangor model continues to be applied to the delivery of all coaching and leadership training for the Armed Services in the UK, as well as Armed Services in Canada and the USA. It has also been applied to educational and sports contexts.

This case study won the inaugural Bangor University Annual Impact Award for Business Performance and/or Outstanding Innovation.

Sport and physical activity policy in Wales: The impact of evaluation research on ‘roll-out’ and revised implementation

This case study reflects IRESE’s strength in policy evaluation research. It focuses on the impact of our research on the Welsh Government’s policy and delivery of national flagship programmes for sport and physical activity. Anchored by empirical studies funded by the Welsh Government (by Bolton with Anderson, Fleming and others), the two public health initiatives that form the Welsh Government’s ‘Climbing Higher’ strategy were evaluated. The evaluation of a pilot study of the Active Young People secondary school sport intervention informed the implementation and ‘roll out’ of the pan-Wales 5x60 physical activity programme to 218 schools by 2009. The evaluation of the pan-Wales Free Swimming Initiative resulted in revised policy objectives for sustainable sports development in Wales, and influenced the type of public swimming opportunities that exist, improved their availability, and increased the extent of engagement with them.

Other impact stories from IRESE

Performance in the Military

Further research by Walsh’s team showed the benefits of a fourth meal each day for optimising immune function and physical performance in military personnel. This project paved the way to IRESE researchers (Walsh, Oliver and Fortes) securing £1.35 million of research funding from the Ministry of Defence (2013) to investigate the influence of Vitamin D on health and performance in military personnel.

Hardy’s (L) work with the Infantry Training and Leadership programmes at Catterick and Pirbright has helped Hardy L, Roberts (with Downing) to  secure a £168k of funding for a PhD studentship from the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (also in 2013) investigating neurocognitive processes underpinning different aspects of mental resilience. In turn, this overall programme of research has led to new collaborations with the Canadian and US armed services.

International Primate Heart Project

Our collaboration with zoological collections (e.g., Zoological Society of London) and sanctuaries in the UK, Europe and Africa led to the International Primate Heart Project (Shave, Drane and Stöhr). This research has extended the application of measurement and monitoring techniques from sporting populations to better understand cardiac health in great apes. It has also led to the training and education of veterinarians working with great apes.

Benefits of exercise in chronic conditions

Research into muscle wasting in patients with chronic conditions (especially rheumatoid arthritis and renal failure) and the benefits of exercise in these conditions has been carried out by Lemmey, MacDonald, Thom, and exercise motivation scales (translated into over ten different languages) developed by Markland have been applied to overweight, sedentary and elderly populations to increase physical activity.  Backx, Shave and Stöhr have been examining the role ofexercise in: the early identification of sub-clinical cardiac disease, the management of patients recovering from myocardial infarctions and the care of patientswith Huntingdon's disease. 

'Love Your Body' to Lose Weight

New research involving SHES senior lecturer Dr David Markland shows that improving body image can enhance the effectiveness of weight loss programmes based on diet and exercise.

Researchers from the Technical University of Lisbon and Bangor University (Dr David Markland) enrolled overweight and obese women on a year-long weight loss programme.

Dr Teixeira (Technical University of Lisbon) who led the research, stated "Body image problems are very common amongst overweight and obese people, often leading to comfort eating and more rigid eating patterns, and are obstacles to losing weight. Our results showed a strong correlation between improvements in body image, especially in reducing anxiety about other peoples' opinions, and positive changes in eating behaviour. From this we believe that learning to relate to your body in healthier ways is an important aspect of maintaining weight loss and should be addressed in every weight control programme."

View the full story (as reported in ScienceDaily on 18 July 2011).


Drinking sugary drinks can increase fat gain and can dull taste buds and enjoyment

Research by Dr Hans-Peter Kubis has hit the headlines again after showing that regularly drinking sugar sweetened soft drinks can lead to fat gain, inhibit fat metabolism and increase blood glucose. The research proved that regularly drinking soft drinks changes the way our muscles use food as fuel, making them prefer to burn sugars over fats, and that these changes can be lasting.  Dr Kubis' research into Appetite is cited in Nature (Sartor, F. et al. Appetite 57, 237–246 (2011)). Further research has shown for the first time that overweight and obese people have a dulled sensitivity to soft drinks but enhanced subconscious liking of sweet as a taste.


Too many sugary drinks can dull taste buds and enjoyment

New research undertaken by Dr Hans-Peter Kubis and his team, has shown for the first time that overweight and obese people have a dulled sensitivity to soft drinks but enhanced subconscious liking of sweet as a taste. Hans-Peter said it has "serious implications" for health and a failure to address the problem could lead to rising obesity levels and more type 2 diabetes.

The full story can be found at: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/news/full.php.en?nid=4750&tnid=4750 and has been reported on the BBC North West Wales News website at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-13697517

Hans-Peter's research is published in Appetite (2011), doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.05.107: Taste perception and implicit attitude toward sweet related to body mass index and soft drink supplementation.

One Turf

The ‘One Turf’ concept and project funded by the International Rugby Board and led by Irwin and Mitchell has influenced the manufacture of artificial playing surfaces for major team games in collaboration with Charnwood Dynamics.


Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Linked to the quality of the work has been the external independent recognition of it. The success of a KTP project conducted with the Lane 4 Management Group is notable and set a standard for excellence that pre-dates the current REF cycle. Entitled ‘A psychological model of high performance environments’, this project won one of the eight UK wide awards for KTP in 2006.

More recently in 2012 Markland and Thom led another KTP project with the Isle of Anglesey County Council (Enhancing the provision of physical activity programmes for older people) that was rated ‘outstanding’. This project was instrumental in the County Council successfully gaining over £500k in Lottery Funding for older people’s services. This funding helped establish Age Well Centres on Anglesey which led to Clare, Thom et al securing MRC funding to work with Age Concern to establish a similar centre in Gwynedd.

ACE inhibitors and systemic sclerosis

ACE inhibitors are very effective in managing certain vascular complications of systemic sclerosis, especially scleroderma renal crisis. Consequently, there was a vogue for prescribing these agents with the aim of preventing the development of vascular disease in this condition. The £274K QUINS trial (Arthritis Rheum 2007, 56: 3837-46, led by Prof Maddison) was the first multicentre, randomised, placebo-controlled, double blind trial of the long acting ACE inhibitor, quinapril, to address this issue and showed that ACE inhibitors were not effective as prophylactic agents. These results have since influenced treatment policy in systemic sclerosis and indiscriminate use of these agents is now discouraged.