PhD Scholarship - Patterns of objectively measured physical activity and healthy ageing: Does one-size-fit-all?

The University of Queensland (UQ) and the University of Exeter are seeking an exceptional student for this PhD Scholarship: Patterns of objectively measured physical activity and healthy ageing: Does one-size-fit-all?​ as part of the QUEX Institute. This joint PhD scholarship provides a fantastic opportunity for a talented doctoral student to work closely with a world class research group and benefit from the combined expertise and facilities offered at the two institutions. The successful applicant will have the chance to study in Australia and the UK, and will graduate with a joint degree from The University of Queensland and the University of Exeter.

In addition to this project, a further six UQ-based projects are available, along with seven Exeter-based projects.


Project details

Patterns of objectively measured physical activity and healthy ageing: Does one-size-fit-all?

Project team Project description Preferred academic background


Dr Gregore Iven Mielke

Professor Wendy J Brown


Associate Professor Melvyn Hillsdon 

Dr Brad Metcalf


Population ageing is associated with increased economic and societal burden, due to multiple morbidities and loss of function. Physical activity (PA) is arguably the most important modifiable preventive factor associated with healthier ageing, especially if optimal patterns of PA are established in late-middle to early older age (referred to here as the 'young-old' life-stage). 

Public health guidelines for physical activity encourage adults to accumulate at least 150-minutes per week of moderate-vigorous intensity PA. However, this ‘one-size-fits-all’ recommendation may be less appropriate for young-old adults. Recent studies utilising objective measures of PA (accelerometers) have suggested that, at this life-stage, lower volumes of PA confer significant health benefits. Such studies have only focused on a few simple metrics that summarise the time spent in PA at different activity intensities. These metrics were based on calibration studies undertaken in young healthy populations and therefore are likely to misclassify levels of PA in older people.

The paucity of studies that precisely measure physical activity in young-old adults means that true associations between PA and healthy ageing are likely to be underestimated, and our understanding of the ‘optimal’ PA pattern for successful ageing is poorly understood.

The development of novel metrics that better reflect levels and patterns of PA at this life-stage would provide a better understanding of how physical activity patterns are related to specific health outcomes, which in turn could lead to more appropriate and targeted prevention interventions. This project will use systematic reviews, meta-analyses and new analyses of data from large population-based cohort studies in Australia and the UK that have measured physical activity using raw accelerometry in over 100,000 'young-old' adults, to investigate whether different patterns of PA are associated with different health outcomes.

The specific aims of this project are to:

  1. identify patterns of objectively-measured physical activity (assessed with wrist-worn accelerometers) and to develop novel metrics for assessing the relationships between PA and health outcomes in 'young-old' adults;
  2. investigate the socioeconomic, demographic, social and environmental (neighbourhood) determinants of specific patterns of objectively measured physical activity in 'young-old' adults;
  3. improve understanding of inequalities in physical activity at this life-stage.

A bachelor’s degree with first class honours or a coursework master’s degree and an overall GPA (grade point average) equivalent to 5.65 on the 7-point UQ scale, which includes a relevant research component.

The successful applicant for this project will enrol through The University of Queensland's School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences.

Questions about this project should be directed to Dr Gregore Iven Mielke


These scholarships include a living stipend of AUD $27,596 (2019) tax free, indexed annually, tuition fees and Overseas Student Health Cover (where applicable). A travel grant of AUD $8,500 per annum, and a training grant of AUD $3,000 are also available over the program.

How to apply

These scholarships attract a large number of applications and are therefore highly competitive. The are several steps involved in the application process, and these are outlined below. Please note this process is for the UQ-based projects. The Exeter-based projects have a different process.

  1. Expression of Interest: To be considered for this program, you must complete an Expression of Interest via the link below.
  2. Shortlisting: The project team will review all Expressions of Interest received. They may contact you at this stage to request more information or to have an informal discussion about your suitability for the project.
  3. Interview: The project team will nominate the two most suitable applicants for each project (or only one if they prefer), and these applicants will be invited to attend a formal interview. As there are seven UQ-based projects, a maximum of 14 applicants will be interviewed.
  4. Invitation to apply: The applicants who were interviewed will be ranked. The top five ranked interviewees will be invited to submit a full application, providing they have applied for five different projects. If two applicants have expressed interest in the same project, the lower ranked applicant of the two will not proceed, and the applicant with the next highest ranking for a different project will be invited to apply instead.
  5. Assessment of application: If you are invited to submit a full application, this is the point at which you will be assessed for eligibility to enter the PhD program. To avoid delays at this point, you should familiarise yourself with the program requirements including evidence of relevant research experience and English language proficiency prior to submitting an Expression of Interest.
  6. Commencement: Successful applicants will commence at The University of Queensland in Research Quarter 1 (January, 2020).

Expressions of interest are open until 20 May, 2019.

Submit an expression of interest

Questions? Contact the Graduate School.