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Professor Valerie Gladwell

Director of the Institute of Health & Wellbeing

Professor Gladwell is extremely passionate about enhancing lifelong health, helping people to achieve, thrive and flourish by utilising the five ways to wellbeing: be active, take notice, give, connect and learn.

Her particular focus is the use of physical activity, whether by deliberate activity or by stealth.  Her research has investigated how the environment shapes physical activity, particularly the natural environment ("Green Exercise"). The natural environment also plays a key role in taking notice and her work with The Wildlife Trust explored the importance of volunteering.

The workspace is another important environment in which her research has focussed. Her work has explored the use of physical activity to break up sedentary time with a particular focus on balance and strength (the “forgotten” guidelines). As well as using nature within the working day to reduce stress and potentially improve sleep. One aspect of her work is to explore the balance of the autonomic nervous system using heart rate variability.

For healthy ageing and to reduce non-communicable disease she believes that a pragmatic whole system approach is needed. She works with a range of stakeholders and partners and her preference is to work as a team. She has undertaken research and evaluation with a range of businesses, trying to co-design where she can. One of the examples of this is her evaluation work with Essex County Council on Sport England's Local Delivery Pilot where she was one of the Project Managers of the Evaluation Consortium (2017-2021).

Her research utilises biochemical, physiological, and psychological skills.