Postgraduate research opportunity – Project REACH: Resistance Exercise for Adolescents in sCHools – dr. brendan O’Keeffe.

Schools, and specifically Physical Education programmes, have been identified as the most suitable vehicle to promote active and healthy lifestyles among young people (Pate et al., 2006). Resistance Exercise (RE) is in top five most popular activities among adolescents in Ireland according to the most recent data from the Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity survey (Woods et al., 2019). A recent article by Kennedy et al., (2021) highlighted the paucity of school-based interventions with an RE focus that have been delivered at scale.   Therefore, the aim of project REACH (Resistance Exercise for Adolescent in sCHools) is to develop an introduction to resistance exercise (RE) programme that is suitable for delivery in secondary school-based physical education settings.

The REACH intervention will be designed to equip teachers with the foundations for introducing RE in a school context. In addition, student participants will be provided with the knowledge, motivation, skills, and confidence to engage in RE.  Phase one of the REACH project will include a survey of current RE practices in schools involving a nationally representative sample of secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland, in addition to a systematic literature review of school based RE interventions. Informed by the results of the literature review and national survey, the REACH programme will be developed. Phase two will focus primarily on the feasibility of the project and will include a small-scale pilot (n = 4 schools) followed by an expansion study (n = 20 schools). Finally, the aim of phase three is to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the overall project, including an examination of both students and teachers’ experiences of the REACH programme and supporting resources. 

Suitable candidates interested in pursuing funding applications for full and part time postgraduate research at both MSc and PhD level on Project REACH are being actively sought. A level eight qualification in physical education or related discipline is required, and experience in the delivery of resistance exercise desirable.  

For further information or queries, please contact


· Pate, R. R., et al. (2006). “Promoting physical activity in children and youth: a leadership role for schools.” Circulation 114(11): 1214-1224.

· Kennedy, S. G., et al. (2021). “Evaluating the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation and maintenance of the Resistance Training for Teens program.” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 18(1): 1-18.

· Woods, C., et al. (2018). “The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study 2018.”


Dr Brendan O’Keeffe is a Lecturer in Physical Education in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, UL.

Contact: Follow on twitter: @BrendanOK_; @PEPAYS_IrelandResearchgate, ORCID


Brendan OK

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