Research on physical activity and wellbeing for the whole life course

Research at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences

The faculty’s research activities are reinforced by research funding granted by the Academy of Finland for the years 2016–2020, which is designated to the research domain of “Physical activity and health during the human life-span” (see Phy­sical ac­ti­vi­ty and health network). In addition, the Faculty plays the main role in two other Academy-funded high-profile research schemes. “Brain changes across the life-span – the role of growth environments, self-regulation and physical activity” is carried out in collaboration with the Faculty of Education and Psychology during 2017–2021. “Active ageing and care 2040” is collaborative effort with the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy and is carried out during 2018–2022.

Research at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences focuses on physical activity, health and wellbeing, taking into account people’s whole life course. The aim is to increase research knowledge that supports the promotion of health and physical activity and increases the individual and societal benefits of physical activity.

Physiotherapy research focuses on the effectiveness and significance of motor rehabilitation. Research in this area is conducted in national as well as international collaborations. The research investigates the muscles, cartilage and bones as they relate to the functioning of the musculoskeletal system. The possibilities for guidance, learning and technology in rehabilitation are also studied, for example, with regard to online technologies and gamification. Research into teaching and guidance in physiotherapy mainly addresses teachers’ expertise as well as the guidance given to people of different ages in various distant and contact teaching settings. We seek to develop evidence-based physiotherapy as part of multiprofessional rehabilitation.

Gerontological research aims at producing knowledge to promote the health and functional capacity of older people. The purpose is to enable an active, full life at different ages. Major research areas include staying active at an older age, the functional capacity, life course, and physical activity of older people as well as the biological and psychological mechanisms of aging. 

Research on the Biology of physical activity aims to produce knowledge about the functional and adaptation mechanisms of the neuromuscular system related to motoric performance and training effects. A focal research area deals with the impact mechanisms of physical activity on the occurrence of obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. This field also includes broad-based applied research carried out in collaboration with, for example, companies in sport and wellness technologies as well as with different sports organisations. Research related to the physical fitness of military personnel is carried out in collaboration with the Finnish Defence Forces.

The research on physical education examines school PE, teacher education for PE and health education, motivation for physical activity, and motor learning as well as physical activity behaviour at different stages of life. Research areas in the social sciences of sport include civic activities in sport, physical activity behaviours in the population, physical activity in the course of life, change in the physical activity culture, environmental policy relative to physical activities, physical activity in youth culture, the planning and management of physical activities, and competitive and top-level sports.

Sports and exercise medicine studies various connections between physical activities and health problems and seeks to promote people’s health, functional capacity and wellbeing. An essential aim of projects in this field is to increase knowledge about the impact mechanisms of physical activity and about practical methods for preventing and treating health problems. Research is focused on both the advantages and disadvantages of physical activity.

Health promotion research is focused on wellbeing, health and health-related inequalities, health behaviour and health literacy among children and adolescents. It also covers health education at school and teacher education along with instructional research for lifestyle changes as well as contextually oriented and community-based health promotion activities.