Physical Activity Research Group

300.000 Members joined 10.000 Steps



The Physical Activity Research Group aims to advance the science of physical activity and related health behaviours, such as diet/nutrition, sedentary behaviour, weight loss/maintenance and sleep. Specifically, research within the group focuses on increasing the knowledge of individual, social and environmental correlates of these health behaviours. It further seeks to develop and evaluate innovative intervention strategies to improve health behaviours at an individual and population level, both in healthy populations (e.g., children, elderly) and populations with health conditions (e.g., people with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression).

A particular strength of the research group is the application of e- and mHealth intervention strategies such as the use of web-, app- and tracker-based behaviour change interventions, as well as the use of ‘computer-tailoring’ to provide automated and highly individualised advice to improve health behaviours. The Physical Activity Research Group regularly attracts highly competitive research funds (e.g., NHMRC and NHF) and houses the world-renowned 10,000 Steps Australia project, which has over 350,000 online members.

Professor Corneel Vandelanotte

Research Areas: physical activity, diet, sleep, computer-tailoring and e- and mHealth

Professor Corneel Vandelanotte Profile

Dr Amanda Rebar

Research Areas: physical activity, exercise, health psychology, automatic/non-conscious regulation, dual process models and habits

Dr Amanda Rebar Profile

Dr Susan Williams

Research Areas: nutrition and dietetics, public health and health services

Dr Susan Williams Profile

Dr Stephanie Schoeppe

Research Areas: physical activity, sedentary behaviour, mHealth and children

Dr Stephanie Schoeppe Profile

Dr Stephanie Alley

Research Areas: physical activity, sedentary behaviour, eHealth and older adults

Dr Stephanie Alley Profile

Dr Saman Khalesi

Research Areas: diet/nutrition, high blood pressure, chronic diseases and pro- and prebiotics.

Dr Sami Khalesi Profile

Dr Melanie Hayman

Research Areas: physical activity, exercise, diet, e- and m health and pregnancy

Dr Melanie Hayman Profile

Dr Quyen To

Post-doctoral Research Fellow

Research interests: technology-based approaches to improve physical activity

Dr Quyen To Profile

10,000 Steps

Project Leaders: Professor Corneel Vandelanotte, Associate Professor Mitch Duncan

Project Staff: Kelly Corry, Anetta Van Itallie, Cindy Hooker, Nina Smith, Emma Power

Funding Body: Funded by the Queensland Government

About the Project: 10,000 Steps was Australia’s first ‘whole of community’ health promotion physical activity project funded by Queensland Health. The initial Rockhampton project (2001-2003) was an exemplary model of an effective multi-strategy, multi-sector physical activity project. As a result of the success in Rockhampton, the Queensland Government has continued to fund the ongoing delivery of the program to increase participation in physical activity through Queensland and beyond.

The 10,000 Steps project aims to increase the day-to-day activity of Australians by encouraging the use of step-counting pedometers or activity trackers to accumulate "incidental" physical activity as part of everyday living. The free online program supports behaviour change in individuals by encouraging goal-setting, recording and monitoring of steps and physical activity, also with some gamification through monthly challenges, achievement of milestone badges and ability to challenge friends and workmates in team Tournaments. There are online resources that help workplaces and communities to promote physical activity through the use of the 10,000 Steps strategies and also free promotional materials that can be posted to Queensland Coordinators or downloaded by others.


TaylorActive Project – Increasing physical activity at a population level using an innovative web-based and video-tailored intervention

Investigators: Professor Corneel Vandelanotte, Professor Ronald Plotnikoff, Associate Professor Mitchell Duncan, Professor William Mummery, Dr Camille Short

Funded by: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for a total of $697 086.

Only 46% of Australians achieve the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day needed to prevent chronic disease, a preventable burden that costs the healthcare system $1.6 billion each year. Web-based interventions can reach most Australians at low cost, but often fail to engage and retain participants long enough to achieve long-term behaviour change. We will evaluate an innovative and more engaging approach that uses personalised web-based videos provided on a weekly basis that will help Australians become more physically active in the long-term.

Study Aims: To develop a web-based physical activity intervention using personally tailored videos and to study the effectiveness of the video-tailored intervention relative to a traditional text-tailored intervention and a control group (3 group, 9 month RCT) with the primary outcome measure being physical activity (measured objectively and via self-report).

Psychological distress in nursing students: roles of modifiable lifestyle behaviours

Investigators (Phase 1): Dr Saman Khalesi, Dr Susan Williams, Dr Robert Stanton, Dr Sonia Saluja, Dr Amanda Rebar, Dr Andrew Fenning, Mrs Penny Heidke, Associate Professor Talitha Best, Professor Corneel Vandelanotte

Psychological distress is common among nursing students due to the complex and demanding nature of the study, which can impair their academic, clinical performance and well-being. Poor lifestyle (diet, smoking, alcohol over-consumption and inactivity) can impair physical and mental health. This study aims to: identify lifestyle factors linked to psychological distress (Phase 1); identify the barrier to lifestyle modification (Phase 2); and develop and implement targeted interventions to improve lifestyle and psychological distress in Nursing students (Phase 3). If successful, these interventions may ultimately improve health, well-being, clinical performance and resilience of students prior to entering the nursing workforce.

Step it Up: A family-based web- and app intervention to increase physical activity in children

Research team: Dr Stephanie Schoeppe, Professor Corneel Vandelanotte, Dr Susan Williams, Professor Jo Salmon, Dr Stephanie Alley, Dr Amanda Rebar, Dr Melanie Hayman, Associate Professor Mitch Duncan, Mrs Anetta Van Itallie, Mrs Deb Power

Funded by: a CQUniversity Staff Start-up grant.

Aim: To test the initial feasibility and efficacy of an innovative web- and app intervention to increase physical activity in children aged 10-13 years and their parents.

Significance: In Australia, 81% of children aged 5-17 years do not achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and they spend about 11 hours per day being sedentary during school hours, TV viewing, indoor play, and car travel. Insufficient physical activity contributes to Australia’s high prevalence (25%) of childhood overweight and obesity, as well as an increased prevalence of childhood type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. An active lifestyle provides children significant health benefits, such as high bone density, mastery of fundamental movement skills, physical fitness and healthy weight. Encouraging active lifestyles in children is important to prevent that unhealthy behaviours track from childhood into adulthood and cause chronic diseases.

The Diabetes Online Risk Assessment (DORA) Project

Investigators: Dr Susan Williams, Associate Professor Kate Ames, Associate Professor Celeste Lawson, Dr Sonia Saluja, Professor Corneel Vandelanotte

Funding: CQUniversity Merit grant

Study Aim: to understand what types of health messages people like to receive and how useful these messages are in encouraging them to take follow-up actions after completing a health risk assessment.

Why we are doing this study: An estimated 2 million Australians are at high risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and are unaware of their risk, and up to 58% of cases may be prevented if they are detected early. The AUSDRISK is a validated tool that was developed to assist in predicting five-year risk of diabetes. The study is examining the usability and acceptability of an intervention that provides tailored video-based stories in combination with text-based feedback, to facilitate follow-up action and behaviour change in individuals who receive an intermediate or high-risk score following completion of the Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool (AUSDRISK).

Capturing community voices to explore drivers of health and well-being decisions related to nutrition

Investigators: Dr Susan Williams, Associate Professor Kate Ames, Dr Wendy Madsen, Professor Jenni Judd, Dr Jay Deagon, Fiona McKenzie (QCWA Country Kitchens).

Note: This research is being conducted by CQUniversity research staff in partnership with the staff of the Queensland Country Women’s Association Country Kitchens program.

Funding: CQUniversity Interdisciplinary Research Grant Scheme

Study Aim: to work with community members to explore and document community-specific factors that may help or hinder communities to make healthy food choices, and understand what factors drive the well-being decisions of individuals living in rural and regional communities in Queensland.

Why we are doing this study: Individuals living in rural and regional communities are at greater risk of developing nutrition-related health conditions and their risk of these diseases and overall health is further challenged by their limited access to, and use of, health and support services and reduced access and affordability of healthy foods. There is a need to understand interrelationships between the range of factors underlying nutrition-related decisions made by community members and by capturing the voices of communities, we can develop a greater sense of what is needed and how interventions can be tailored to the needs and wants of the target community.

Fit4Two Program

Fit4Two is a web-based program that has successfully improved health behaviours among pregnant women, thus contributing to a reduced risk of obesity and other chronic diseases in the mother and her child.

The Fit4Two program also helps to reduce the burden on practitioners by supporting them in their provision of care in a manner that is cost-effective, time-efficient, sustainable, and highly engaging. Furthermore, Fit4Two is not limited in accessibility and can provide essential support to women residing in rural, regional and remote communities where pregnant women experience poorer health and birth outcomes and limited access to specialist healthcare services. Fit4Two has been identified as a promising approach to improving the quality of healthcare, and as such is now being replicated and tested among other population groups including older adults and overweight/obese adults and internationally among pregnant women in Canada and the USA.

Active For Life: Increasing physical activity in older adults using an innovative personally-tailored and web-based intervention

Investigators: Dr Stephanie Alley, Professor Lynne Parkinson, Associate Professor Jannique van Uffelen, Dr Stephanie Schoeppe, Professor Anthony Schneiders, Professor Corneel Vandelanotte

Funded by: CQUniversity - Value $36 000

Regular physical activity leads to significant improvements in the physical and mental health of older Australians (+65 years of age) and reduces risk of chronic disease. Yet over 70% of older adults are not meeting the recommended physical activity levels for health. This needs to be addressed to improve their quality of life and to reduce the impact of chronic disease in this population. There is very little research examining how new technology can be used to help older adults to become more active. As 79% of older adults are now using the Internet, web-based physical activity interventions hold promise to reach large numbers at low cost. These interventions have shown to be effective in the general population, especially when they provide highly personalised advice and integrate activity trackers.

Study Aims: To examine the effectiveness of a tailored web-based physical activity intervention, both with and without activity tracker integration for older adults in a randomised controlled trial.


Towards a better understanding of why people do or do not adopt an active lifestyle during and following cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation

Primary Investigator: Dr Amanda Rebar1

Associate Investigators: Professor Corneel Vandelanotte1; Dr Jennifer Judd1; Dr Benjamin Gardner2; Dr Chris Askew3; Dr Irina Kinchin1; Kristie-Lee Alfrey1

1CQUniversity Australia; 2 Kings College London; 3 University of the Sunshine Coast

Funding Body: CQUniversity Linkage Partnership Grant

Study Aim: To investigate why heart and lung disease patients do or do not adopt an active lifestyle during and following rehabilitation and test whether people who attend rehabilitation are more likely to be more physically active, exercise tolerant, and have better cardiovascular and respiratory health outcomes than those who do not attend rehabilitation.

The development and evaluation of a web-based falls prevention program for community dwelling Australians aged over 65 years

Investigator: Meghan Ambrens (PhD Candidate)

PhD Supervisors: Professor Corneel Vandelanotte (Principal Supervisor), Dr Stephanie Alley, Professor Anne Tiedemann (University of Sydney) (Associate Supervisors)

Thesis Abstract: As a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in older adults, falls are a significant health concern in Australia. Research has explored the risk factors associated with falls and found exercise as a single intervention reduces the risk of falls. Despite this, the prevalence of falls continues to rise in Australia. Adherence to falls prevention programs is poor. This project will explore the effectiveness of an interactive computer-tailored intervention to reduce falls in community-dwelling Australians aged over 65 years. Changes in knowledge regarding falls and falls risk, as well as adherence to a web-based,  falls prevention program will also be assessed.