Gorging allowed – but just for one week!

A daily bout of exercise

Male? Aged 18-40? Can you help our health researchers with their latest study?

Researchers in our Department for Health are looking for local volunteers who are willing to temporarily - for one week - change their physical activity levels and adopt the lifestyle of someone who eats too much.

They want to hear from active males, aged 18-40 years old, who do at least three bouts of aerobic exercise per week (this can be on top of weight training) and who do not smoke. The study will investigate whether different forms of daily exercise can counteract the effects of short-term overfeeding and reduced physical activity.

Participants, who will be split into four groups, will be allowed a maximum of 4,000 steps a day and can choose to use a wheelchair or mobility scooter in order to achieve a more sedentary lifestyle. Each group will be asked to over-eat for a period of one week, with the amount and type of exercise varied in order to study different exercise interventions.

The power of a daily bout of exercise

This new study follows on from a previous experiment that was ranked third in the prestigious The Journal of Physiology’s top articles from 2014. Through this work scientists within the Sport, Health & Exercise Science group found that a daily bout of vigorous-intensity running seemed to completely cancel out many of the changes induced by overfeeding and reduced activity, even though participants were actively storing excess energy.

“While we have shown that vigorous-intensity exercise prevented many of the long-term negative changes from taking place following short-term overfeeding and reduced physical activity, we would like to find out whether other forms of exercise have the same potential. Our DisAbility, Sport & Health group is keen to find out whether a form of upper body exercise available to wheelchair users (arm cranking) would provide the same benefits as running” said Dr Jean-Philippe Walhin, lead researcher who is conducting the study.

Collaborator, Professor Dylan Thompson added: “This new research aims to investigate whether a bout of moderate-intensity exercise or lots of small bouts throughout the day can also help stave off most of the negative effects of over-eating and inactivity.”

“A sedentary lifestyle and a high intake of calories potentially contribute to chronic low-grade inflammation, which plays a key role in the development of Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Dr Walhin concluded: “We all know that exercise is good for us, but the exact mechanisms by which it benefits health are still unclear. This research will enable us to see what role the adipose tissue and skeletal muscle play in those diseases and how exercise helps prevent them. By understanding what changes take place very early on, this will give us a chance to understand how exercise actually prevents those changes from taking place.”

Why take part?

As well as helping University research, all eligible volunteers will receive a copy of their personalised results (and the 'normal' values for these measurements) including;

  • Cardio-respiratory fitness (VO2 max)
  • Diet (e.g. both good and bad aspects)
  • Level of physical activity (e.g. how many calories you use per day compared to how may you consume in your diet)
  • Body composition analysis (DEXA scan: precise percentage fat mass and muscle mass)
  • Blood measurements (e.g. cholesterol, fasting glucose, insulin)
  • Blood pressure

You will receive £50 to go towards the extra food required for the study and the researchers will also issue participants with £100 on completion for any inconvenience.

Find out more and take part

To find out more about the project, contact Dr Jean-Philippe Walhin on 01225 386478 or

To read about our researchers' first study, as featured in the New York Times, see 'The Power of a Daily Bout of Exercise' and The Daily Mail's 'Planning to stuff yourself this Christmas? A 45-minute workout can combat the damage even if you burn fewer calories than you eat.'

According to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research from our Department for Health was judged to be fourth nationally for impact. To find out more see our REF2014 performance page.

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For media enquiries:

Andy Dunne
University Press Office
44(0)7966 341357