Department of Sport and Exercise Science

Human Performance and Health

Human Performance and Health is influenced by the interplay of a variety of biomechanical, physiological, and psychological factors. The Human Performance and Health Research Group adopts an interdisciplinary research approach to understand, evaluate, and enhance human performance, for sport, exercise, work and health. To achieve these aims this research group undertakes high quality, high impact, internationally recognised research and over the last four years it has produced ~80 peer reviewed publications, secured ~£350,000 funding from a variety of organisations, charities and industry, and presented research findings at national and international conferences where it has won a number of awards.

We have extensive experience working with various organisations and industry, as well as individuals. Over the years we have worked with athletes and sports people from a variety of sports, across a range of ages, and from Olympic Champions to the recreationally active. Collaborators with the Human Performance and Health Research Group have included: Amateur Swimming Association, Energy Institute, Fuchs Foundation, Great Britain Pistol Shooting Squad, Hampshire County Cricket, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Ministry of Defence, Oil and Gas Industry, Portsmouth FC, RNLI, Southampton FC, UK Sport, WL Gore.

Research with Impact

Occupational physiology and fitness standards

Occupational physiology and fitness standards

International legislation concerning age discrimination, coupled with requirements to ensure that employment selection is fair and unbiased, have led to the introduction of task-based occupational fitness standards based for jobs within organisations where there is a known physical demand.

The Human Performance and Health Research Group has worked to develop such standards for the military, RNLI, Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the UK Oil and Gas Industry

Understanding and enhancing human performance

Understanding and enhancing human performance

Cycling exercise poses an array of challenges to the body's ability to control its internal environment and maintain thermal comfort. This occurs due to the multiple combinations that are possible in terms of metabolic heat production combined with factors influencing the various avenues for thermal energy exchange with the environment.

In this work, funded by WL Gore and associates, the Human Performance and Health Research Group has examined the perceptual and physiological responses to a variety of simulated cycling scenarios under different clothing conditions. This research helped to increase understanding of the factors influencing comfort during exercise and can be used to optimise cycle clothing design, with the goal of enhancing human  performance.

Performance psychology of individuals and organisations

Performance psychology of individuals and organisations

The Human Performance and Health Research Group has published widely on the factors that allow individuals, teams, and organisations to flourish in elite performance domains. Recent research has focused on identifying key antecedents to sustained performance excellence and providing interventions to enhance these factors, to optimise individual and organizational functioning in Olympic sports.

Further, this work has recently been expanded to incorporate business, education, and military organisations. For example, members of our group were recently invited to lead the psychological research for the “Spirit of Scott” British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012 and later presented their findings at the Royal Geographical Society.

Clinical exercise science and physical activity promotion

Clinical exercise science and physical activity promotion

Exercise poses both a benefit and a risk to individuals who are sedentary or presenting chronic disease or disability. This part of the Human Performance and Health Research Group investigates the effect of exercise training on physiological outcomes in such populations. The interactions of exercise and nutrition are also investigated as complementary therapy to primary care, including the efficacy of dietary nitrate on exercise efficiency in post-myocardial infarction patients and the metabolism-enhancing effects of marine proteins during exercise in obesity.

Evaluations of services have also been provided, such as whether resistance training is as effective as aerobic exercise in improving health and well-being in patients referred for obesity management. Further research in cardiac rehabilitation has investigated the role of emotional intelligence in predicting uptake of exercise in the community following supervised exercise and whether action planning can facilitate walking in post-MI patients.


The Human Performance and Health Research Group offers a range of research and consultancy services, utilizing the wide range of staff expertise within this group as well as the state of the art facilities and equipment housed within the Spinnaker Building.

Our services include:

  • Supervision for MPhil, MRes and PhD students interested in working in the area of Human Performance and Health; we welcome new applicants.
  • A variety of consultancy services for athletes and sports people such as fitness tests to monitor the effectiveness of training, evaluate high intensity exercise performance, and assess strength and power.
  • Bespoke testing packages on a one-to-one basis or with larger number of athletes in a team sport setting.

If you would like any further information regarding the services offered, please contact Dr Jo Corbett.

Research Group Members

The work undertaken by the Human Performance and Health Research Group ranges from fundamental research, to applied work and product evaluation. The research group is co-ordinated by Dr Jo Corbett with significant input from other researchers and academics, including: