Sport, exercise science & active living

We conduct research in the three programs of sport, exercise science and active living.

Our research in human movement and sports science was recently rated as 'well above world standard' by the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative.

Research programs

Thematic in nature, our research utilises multidisciplinary approaches wherever possible and spans fundamental through to applied research under our research program areas.

Our multidisciplinary approach incorporates expertise from the following institute and colleges:

Research program areas

Active Living Across the Lifespan

The Active Living Across the Lifespan research program targets individuals of all ages and a diverse range of cultural backgrounds. Among the current research are several focal areas, including activity trends of children/adolescents, active living in elderly individuals and physical activity for those living with neurological disease.

Active Living & Public Health

The Active Living & Public Health program aims to improve the health and well-being of populations by informing and conducting evidence-based interventions for the promotions of active living. This can be achieved by increasing participation in physical activity, including exercise and sport, and reducing sedentary behaviour.

Clinical Exercise Science

Primary areas of research in the Clinical Exercise Science program include improving the movement and utility of those with gait or postural impairment and examining the role of exercise in the incidence and progress of chronic lifestyle diseases. Research focuses on development of novel exercise interventions to improve mobility and prevent and manage chronic lifestyle diseases.

Muscle & Exercise Metabolism

The Muscle & Exercise Metabolism program explores the response of muscle and metabolism to exercise from a basic science viewpoint. Major focus areas include the relationship between exercise and skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity, muscle mass in terms of both atrophy and hypertrophy, electrolyte regulation in muscle and blood and factors contributing to fatigue of neural and muscular origins.

Sport Science

The Sports Science research program seeks to enhance sporting performance by advancing the understanding of athlete preparation and performance. This program aims to generate research that external collaborators and sporting body partners may transfer into real-world situations.

Sport in Society

The Sport in Society program unifies humanities and social science research disciplines to gain deeper understanding of sport in Australian and global communities. Of special interest are the social-cultural and political-economic dynamics that hinder or promote access, participation, equity, identify and community development.

Research projects in sport, exercise and active living are underpinned by a multidisciplinary approach that allows us to offer expertise across diverse areas.

Working with FIFA: Examining the quality, reliability and reproducibility of the devices against a computer vision standard

 VU and FIFA join forces to study tracking systems
VU and FIFA join forces to study tracking systems

Victoria University is working with international football governing body FIFA to establish world-first standards for electronic movement-tracking devices. The research will directly help the game of football in policy and rule development, as well as in future applications for officiating, broadcasting, and potentially in detecting match-fixing.

VU’s Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living Lead researcher Associate Professor Rob Aughey says:

" We used a computer vision model jointly developed by the Australian Institute of Sport and Disney Corporation to get precise locations of players on the football pitch, and then compared the location data from commercial suppliers against our standard.”

FIFA’s Nicolas Evans, Group Leader of the Quality Programme in charge of setting technical standards, said FIFA chose ISEAL after a long selection process. The decision was swayed by ISEAL’s reputation for research excellence, its unique interdisciplinary approach, and its track record for high-quality analysis in high-performance sport.

Understanding the connection between bones and blood sugar

Associate Professor Itamar Levinger

Researchers from VU's Institute for Health & Sport have discovered a hormone that may hold the key to better treatment and control of type 2 diabetes.

Associate Professor Itamar Levinger highlighted the link while studying the effects of physical activity on bone metabolism, sugar control and cardiovascular risk. His research found that changes in the hormone ucOC after physical activity correlated with a reduction in blood glucose levels.

Associate Professor Levinger said better understanding glucose control opened up possibilities for diabetes prevention and management. Diabetes affects around 1.8 million Australians, and costs the community an estimated $6 billion each year.

"By better understanding the connection between our bones and blood sugar control we hope to open the door to drugs controlling blood glucose via the bones, which could improve both blood sugar control and bone health."

For more information email Associate Professor Levinger on or phone +61 3 9919 5343.

Research partnerships in sport

Research is undertaken in partnership with Australian universities, research bodies/organisations, national sports associations, government bodies and elite sport clubs.

Our research partners and collaborators include:

  • Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)
  • Western Bulldogs Football Club
  • Australian Sports Commission
  • Loughborough University (UK).

If you would like to collaborate with us or become part of a research community committed to expertise and leadership in sport, exercise and active living please contact Professor Michael McKenna.

Graduate research opportunities

We welcome applications from prospective research students wanting to undertake a PhD or Masters by Research in the research areas outlined above.

For further information about becoming a graduate researcher or guidance about possible project areas and supervisors, please contact Professor Andrew Stewart.

Research Scholarships

Scholarships may be available for research in this area. For further information on current research scholarships for local and international students, visit scholarships for research students, or externally funded scholarships.

Contact us

For information on academic opportunities or supervision, contact:

Professor Andrew Stewart
College of Sport & Exercise Science
Phone: +61 3 9919 5200