This month I was delighted to be asked to feature in the Early Career Researcher Spotlight for the International Society for Physical Activity and Health’s (ISPAH) monthly newsletter. I am happy to share my interview and research profile!
Tell us about your current work?
Currently, I am focusing on screen-time and sedentary behaviour associations with mental health (depression and anxiety) in young people. This is a growing area that has seen a spike of interest lately due to the present worldly circumstances. A particular focus of this work for me is the context of the sedentary behaviour in question – mentally active sedentary behaviours (e.g. reading, computer use for homework etc.) or mentally passive sedentary behaviours (e.g. television/ Netflix/ YouTube viewing). We aim to explore the potentially different associations between these sedentary behaviours, physical activity and feelings of depression and anxiety in a population of adolescents. This is exciting work for me and I am looking forward to disseminating the results!
I am also currently involved in work investigating the dose-response relationship of screen-time sedentary behaviours, physical activity and mental health, a review and cross-sectional work on movement behaviours and complete mental health in adolescents and work surrounding the measurement of positive mental health in adolescents.
What is your favourite thing about this work?
My favourite thing about my work is the real life benefit it may have on my own life and health! Researching sedentary behaviour is a constant reminder to keep moving. Often we do not notice being sedentary for 8+ hours a day, and as many of us are physical activity researchers we may attempt to offset the negative impact of long hours of sedentary time with a long workout at the end/beginning of the day. Reading and writing about the impact that sedentary behaviour may have on your mental health has reminded me to break up those long sitting periods throughout the day.
What is a key challenge you have overcome with your work?
I am sure this is a common answer to this question, but the inception of COVID-19 has led to large changes in my PhD work. I was due to begin my data collection for my intervention study in April 2020, naturally, due to the closure of schools I was not able to complete this. My research team and I had to re-group and quickly find alternative methods of data collection, and also study design for my PhD. Thankfully, a year later, I have hopefully ‘COVID- proofed’ the rest of my PhD project!
What piece of advice would you give to other ECRs?
My biggest piece of advice would be to acknowledge when over-working is becoming a consistent theme in your life. You need to know when to put your foot down and reach out to people for support. The over-working culture in academia is inevitably detrimental to mental health across the board. In my opinion, the risks greatly outweigh the benefits on this one!
Tell us about one other hobby you have outside of your work?
During lockdown I have recently discovered a love for yoga. There is nothing better than a deep stretch and a few mindful moments for a wind-down after a day’s work
Chloe Forte is a postgraduate student in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter: @chloe_forte
See ISPAH website here: https://www.ispah.org/resources/ispah-news/