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Experts Discuss How To Encourage Exercise

15 March 2012

Research partners in a major European project seeking to promote greater participation in physical activity will meet at the University of Ulster this week.

The University is a research partner in the ‘ProFit’ project, which aims to stimulate innovation in physical activity by developing an EU network of field-labs focused on sport.

Professor Eric Wallace, Director of the Sport & Exercise Sciences Research Institute at Ulster said: “We have a good level of knowledge concerning barriers to exercise and motivational factors but the challenge remains to promote higher levels of participation in physical activity. The ProFit project aims to not only drive innovation in how individuals exercise, for example, new types of equipment, but also to ensure the guidelines for health and exercise are met.

"The concept of ‘field labs’ aims to provide community-based purpose-built facilities that permit specific activities to take place while allowing novel monitoring of activity levels and benefits."

The two-day conference, which begins today, brings together the project’s European partners for their third meeting since ProFit’s launch last year.

The partners are a combination of local public authorities from four European cities - Eindhoven and Delft, the Netherlands, Kortrijk, Belgium and Sheffield, England – and five universities – Sheffield Hallam University, University of Ulster, Eindhoven University of Technology, Delft University of Technology and Howest (University College West Flanders).

Cees van Bladel from ProFit’s lead partner, the Sports and Technology Foundation based in the Netherlands, said: “Besides encouraging more physical activity we also want to stimulate creativity among companies in creating new exercise products and at the same time harness the knowledge of the universities. This is done through close collaborations with stakeholders in 'fieldlabs' - the place where children, adults and elderly take part in physical activity or play.”

The project’s field-labs will be located in urban areas in the four cities, these will be open spaces where people can engage in innovative sports activities, one of the first will be built in Sheffield.

ProFit is funded by the European Union under the Interreg IVB North West Europe programme.