PERS20200 Exercise and Public Health

Academic Year 2022/2023

Regular physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle at all ages and plays an important role in preventing major chronic diseases. Nonetheless, less than 50% of young people engage in a regular and adequate programme of weekly physical exercise. It is ascertained that the benefits of physical activity in childhood and adolescence track into adulthood. This is particularly important given that we are witnessing an increase in life expectancy and more and more people in most developed countries are living for longer than previous generations. In 2010 in Ireland men and women lived on average 77.9 years and 82.7 years, respectively. By 2041 22% of the Irish population will be aged 65 and over. One of the main challenges our society is facing is the improvement in the quality of life of the population, alongside the increase in life span. The key to an enhanced quality of life is to maintain a good level of physical and cognitive activity.
This module will analyse physiological and neuromuscular changes in humans across the life span and will review the role of exercise in offsetting both cognitive, physical and functional deterioration. The module will also provide an insight into wearable technology to monitor physical activity.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this module students will be expected to be able to:

1. Understand the main relationships between physical activity, physical fitness, health status and psychological well-being throughout the life-course.

2. Appraise type and quantity of physical activity at different stages of the life-course and identify the best strategies for monitoring physical activity, including the use wearable sensors.

3. Outline and evaluate the physiological mechanisms which underlie common degenerative diseases.

4. Summarise the main benefits of physical activity and make recommendations to the general population during a public presentation.

5. Review and interpret current concepts on exercise and physical activity from a range of scientific sources and clearly communicate the information using academic writing style.

Indicative Module Content:

Introduction to the module. Research Methods in epidemiology
Exercise & Children
Wearable sensors for monitoring physical activity
Exercise prescription
Exercise prescription in times of Covid-19
Exercise and coronary heart disease
Exercise and obesity
Cognitive function and balance. Dexterity.
Age-related decline of the neuromuscular system; sarcopenia; Steadiness
The role of psychology in physical activity behaviour change

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Active/task-based learning; peer and group work; lectures; critical writing; student presentations. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

PERS10120 Science of Human Performance I

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
PERS10120 - Sci of Human Perf I

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Case study: Prescribing physical activity for the general population. Week 6 n/a Graded No


Oral Examination: Group Presentation Week 10 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback offered on request following assessment

Indicative reading
Journal article references supplied weekly through Brightspace, where appropriate

Suggested reading (specific sections as covered in classes):

• Hardmann A and Stensel D. Physical Activity and Health. The Evidence Explained. Routledge, 2009
• Lee IM, Blair S, Manson J, Paffenbarger RS Jr. Epidemiologic Methods in Physical Activity Studies. Oxford, 2009
• McKenna J and Riddoch C. Perspectives on Health and Exercise. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003
• Bouchard C, Blair SN, Haskell WL. Physical Activity and Health. Human Kinetics, 2007
• Holt NL. Lifelong Engagement in Sport and Physical Activity. Routledge, 2012
• Taylor A and Johnson M. Physiology of Exercise and Healthy Aging. Human Kinetics, 2008
• Tulle E, Phoenix C. Physical Activity and Sport in Later Life: Critical Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015
• Poon L, Chodzko-Zajko W, Tomporowski P. Active Living, Cognitive Functioning, and Aging. Human Kinetics, 2006

Additional information
Useful websites on physical activity (retrieved 02/06/21)

Irish government physical activity guidelines:

Get Ireland Active:

UK government physical activity guidelines:
NHS physical activity guidelines:

American government physical activity guidelines:
US national physical activity plan
ACSM position stands
Name Role
Dr Massimiliano Ditroilo Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor James Matthews Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2 Thurs 11:00 - 12:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Thurs 11:00 - 12:50