Dr Ruth Lowry

School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences
Dr Ruth Lowry



I am a Practitioner Psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist with the British Psychological Society and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My research interests address how physical activity (including exercise and sport) can be used and measured to promote the health and wellbeing of a number of specialist populations (elderly, sedentary employees, military personnel, children with emotional and behavioural difficulties). I am involved in an EU – Innovate UK project, CITY-MOVE which will work with 6 cities on three continents to create and measure physical activity initiatives aimed at addressing the WHO’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity. I recently led the evaluation of two European funded projects that deal with health inequalities in four countries (Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK), Step by Step (SBS, a community Men’s Shed project) and Sexual Health in the over Forty Fives (SHIFT, a new model of service delivery and training). I am also involved in research collaborations one seeking to understand how rock drumming, as an activity intervention, can benefit specialist groups and the other exploring the benefits of physical activity for people living with dementia.


  • PG Cert Higher Education Teaching Queen's University Belfast, (2004)

  • PhD - Psychology Queen's University Belfast, (2002)

  • BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology University of Ulster, (1998)


University of Essex

  • Reader - Exercise Psychology, School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex (1/11/2019 - present)

  • School Director of Research, School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex (1/7/2021 - present)

Other academic

  • Reader - Psychology of Active Living, Institute of Sport, University of Chichester (13/3/2017 - 11/10/2019)

  • Senior Lecturer - Exercise Psychology, Institute of Sport, University of Chichester (25/8/2008 - 6/3/2017)

  • Lecturer - Exercise Psychology, Department of Sport, Culture and the Arts, University of Strathclyde (8/3/2004 - 22/8/2008)

  • Teaching Fellow - Psychology, School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast (16/9/2002 - 5/3/2004)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Psychology of Active Living

Research interests relate to the social and psychological predictors and benefits of active living, physical activities and exercise involvement. My work is underpinned by motivation and health behaviour change theories as well as understanding the complexities of social relationships and support. Current projects use activities such as walking, rock drumming and skills based social prescribing (Community Men's Sheds) to improve physical health, wellbeing and social relationships.

Key words: Autism Specturm Disorder
Open to supervise

Current research

SBS - Step By Step

I recently led the project evaluation of a EU funded project called Step by Step. This is a funded project I gained in my previous position at the University of Chichester. BACKGROUND TO THE PARTNERSHIP: The Step by Step (SBS) project partnership has secured more than €2.6 million of European funding in its €4.3 million cross-border partnership involving 10 organisations from the UK, The Netherlands, France and Belgium (see below for partner details). The project was approved and funded by the EU Interreg 2 Seas Programme 2014-2020 (co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund) which will support the project over four years from 2017-2021. PROJECT AIMS: The aim of SBS is to empower men to move from poor health and or isolation to healthy social participation or active engagement in the labour market. It will promote a culture in which all citizens in all regions will have the confidence to make sustainable positive changes in their lives benefitting themselves and society. The expected changes include: Reduced health costs related to physical & mental health issues better health contributing to healthier individuals, families, communities and the workforce increased labour market activity decreased number of work days lost to poor health. The target group for SBS is specifically men and in particular those who may be socially isolated and suffering from poor mental health or poor wellbeing. BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT: There is consistent evidence to suggest that men access health services less frequently than women and experience poorer physical health outcomes. The suicide rates for men across Europe are increasing. Additionally, unemployment, non-participation, isolation and poor mental health are all contributing factors. Depression and other mental health problems are both under-detected and under-treated but men’s health is particularly poor. Studies have shown that the unemployed suffer more health problems, including mental health, than those in work and the longer people remain out of work when sick, the less likely they will return. Currently health services (general practice, dentists, pharmacies etc) are under-used by men, which adversely impacts their health, their families and their communities, as well as on employers and the national health budget. Men are also less likely to make use of preventative health checks such as oral health and screening. THE SBS PROJECT WILL DELIVER: A model to improve men’s mental and physical health/wellbeing via a community space/workshop where men meet/learn new skills/engage in hands on activities. New model of community health service delivery for men and vulnerable groups. The Health and Europe Centre Kent County Council (UK) Hampshire County Council (UK) University of Chichester (UK) Bolwerk (BE) Wattrelos Association of Community Centres (FR) ADICE – Association for the development of citizen and European initiatives (FR) Community Centre Jean Ferrat Arques (FR) Community Centre ‘De Mussen’ (NL) Wellbeing People (UK)
More information about this project

SHIFT – Sexual Health In the over ForTy-fives

I led the project evaluation of a EU funded project called Sexual Health In the over ForTy-fives. This is a funded project I gained in my previous position at the University of Chichester. Background to the Project SHIFT – Sexual Health In the over ForTy-fives is part of the Interreg VA 2Seas programme and has received funding from the European Regional Development Fund, has a budget of over €4 million, involving partners from the UK, the Netherlands, France and Belgium. Project aims SHIFT aims to empower individuals over 45 to participate in sexual health services and improve their sexual health and wellbeing. In addition, a specifically tailored approach will be created to meet the needs of socio-economically disadvantaged groups across the 2Seas area. The approach will seek to engage with individuals from these groups to gain insight and knowledge of their particular needs and potential gaps in existing services. Through co-creation of service redesign, the current healthcare systems can be adapted to better meet the needs of underrepresented groups. Backround to the project Studies in/beyond Europe (e.g. WHO’s Sexual Health Throughout Life) highlight the need for older people to have better access to sexual health support/care. These identify that older age groups are rarely a focus in European and national policies across the 2Seas area. The correlation is clear between this gap in services and the rise in Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) rates. The over-45s at risk are generally those entering new sexual relationships after a period of monogamy, often post-menopause (removing the issue of pregnancy, without thought to STIs). Our engagement with relevant services suggests lack of knowledge/tools for health services approaching the issue and offering information / treatment. Within this target group, partner research has shown that groups with one or more socio-economic disadvantages (homeless people/sex workers/non-native language speakers / migrants) are at even greater risk of being unaware of their sexual health and unable to access the appropriate services. This project focuses on generating the following outputs, that will be shared across and beyond the project partners, to the workforce of healthcare professionals and to the target group of the project. The SBS project will deliver: Attitude survey in 45+ (detailed needs assessment) Focus groups to discuss local outcomes, compare similarities and differences and decide how this will feed into the development of the model Scoping literature review covering people aged 45+, with a particular focus on socio-economically disadvantaged groups Mixed method evaluation of the model Develop refined needs assessment of health care professionals and gap analysis through focus groups Co-creation of a comprehensive training programme for professionals Mixed method evaluation of the training programme for professionals SHIFT Partners: The Health and Europe Centre Kent County Council (UK) Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (UK) Metro Charity (UK) East Sussex County Council (UK) University of Chichester (UK) Medway Council (UK) STI AIDS (NL) Antwerp University college of Applied Science (BE) Odisee University college (BE) Health Info Solidarity – Information (FR)
More information about this project

CBDP - Clem Burke Drumming Project

I am part of a collaborative group of researchers and drummers called the Clem Burke Drumming Project. As part of the CBDP, we have explored the physical, psychological, developmental and social benefits of rock drumming. Our initial work has involved delivering drumming instruction to children and adolescents with emotional and behavioural difficulties including Autism Spectrum Disorder. These studies have been RCTs and school based programmes. Currently we are analysing our latest findings from a MRI study funded by the Waterloo Foundation. Collaborators: Dr Marcus Smith, University of Chichester Professor Steve Draper, Hartpury University Professor Steve Williams, Kings College London Dr Andrew Robertson, Queen Mary, University of London Dr Ali Amad, Kings College London Dr Muriel Bruchhage, Kings College London Funding for these projects has been received from the Waterloo Foundation and the Barnwood Trust in addition to institutional funding.
More information about this project

Volunteering before and during the pandemic

Royal Society Summer Exhibition - Drumming for Health

In July 2023, I will be leading an exhibit at the Royal Society's Summer of Science Exhibition. This will feature the health benefits associated with learning to play the drums.
More information about this project

Conferences and presentations

British Psychological Society, Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Invited presentation, Keynote presentation, Annual Conference, Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 16/12/2020

Expert panel discussion on mental health in sport.

Invited presentation, Division of Sport & Exercise Psychology Annual Conference, Hilton Hotel, Belfast, United Kingdom, 4/12/2018

Keynote speaker at the NHS, Belfast Trust Health Conference – Motivation and Behaviour Change Theories

Keynote presentation, Fit for Life, Fit for the Future, Belfast, United Kingdom, 7/11/2017

Tower Watson European Rewards Conference – physical activity strategies for workplace wellbeing

Keynote presentation, Tower Watson Offices, London, United Kingdom, 21/5/2015

Incentivising health behaviour in the workplace

Invited presentation, Wellbeing @ Work, NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 10/3/2015

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Sport and Performance Psychology (SE207)

  • Research Project (SE309)

  • Physical Activity and Wellbeing (SE734)

  • Further Research Methods in Sport, Exercise and Health (SE738)

  • Research Project (SE740)

  • Professional practice in sport and exercise psychology (SE741)

  • Psychological Skills and Strategies (SE742)

  • Social psychology in sport and exercise (SE743)

Previous supervision

Georgina Emily Morton
Georgina Emily Morton
Degree subject: Sport and Exercise Psychology
Degree type: Master of Science (by Dissertation)
Awarded date: 16/10/2023


Journal articles (31)

Farina, N., McArdle, R., Lowry, R. and Banerjee, S., (2024). Physical activity patterns within dementia care dyads. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 1-8

Brinkley, A., Sandercock, G., Lowry, R. and Freeman, P., (2024). What determines participation in sport for older adults in England: A multilevel analysis of Active Lives data.. PLoS One. 19 (4), e0301790-e0301790

Asiamah, N., Lowry, R., Khan, HTA. and Awuviry-Newton, K., (2022). Associations between Social support Provided and Walkability among Older Adults: Health Self-Consciousness as a Moderator. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. 101, 104691-104691

Lowry, R., Tyndall, I., Hartland, T., Banerjee, M., Giacomelli, V., Ball, I., Churchill, S. and Pereira, A., (2022). Tailoring sexual health interventions for middle-aged and older adults, including vulnerable populations: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Sexual Health. 34 (4), 593-613

Cahart, M-S., Amad, A., Draper, SB., Lowry, R., Marino, L., Carey, C., Ginestet, CE., Smith, MS. and Williams, SCR., (2022). The Effect of Learning to Drum on Behaviour and Brain Function in Autistic Adolescents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 119 (23), e2106244119-

Farina, N., Williams, A., Clarke, K., Hughes, LJ., Thomas, S., Lowry, R. and Banerjee, S., (2021). Barriers, motivators and facilitators of physical activity in people with dementia and their family carers in England: Dyadic Interviews. Aging and Mental Health. 25 (6), 1115-1124

Farina, N., Hughes, LJ., Thomas, S., Lowry, R. and Banerjee, S., (2021). The relationship between physical activity and health-related quality of life in people with dementia: An observational study. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 30 (4), 1-9

Edmunds, S., Sitch, M. and Lowry, R., (2020). Who provides physical activity support in the workplace? Implications for peer led interventions. Health Education Journal. 79 (2), 195-211

Gorczynski, PF., Edmunds, S. and Lowry, R., (2020). Enhancing physical activity knowledge exchange strategies for Canadian long-haul truck drivers. International Journal of Workplace Health Management. 13 (2), 139-152

Bruchhage, MMK., Amad, A., Draper, S., Seidman, J., Lacerda, L., Luque Laguna, P., Lowry, R., Wheeler, J., Robertson, A., Dell'Acqua, F., Smith, MS. and Williams, SCR., (2020). Drum training induces long-term plasticity in the cerebellum and connected cortical thickness. Scientific Reports. 10 (1), 10116-

Farina, N., Sherlock, G., Thomas, S., Lowry, RG. and Banerjee, S., (2019). Acceptability and feasibility of wearing activity monitors in community‐dwelling older adults with dementia. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 34 (4), 617-624

Lowry, RG., Hale, BJ., Draper, SB. and Smith, MS., (2019). Rock drumming enhances motor and psychosocial skills of children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. International Journal of Developmental Disabilities. 65 (3), 152-161

Farina, N., Hughes, LJ., Watts, A. and Lowry, RG., (2019). Use of Physical Activity Questionnaires in People With Dementia: A Scoping Review. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 27 (3), 413-421

Sitch, M. and Lowry, R., (2019). Social influence on students’ experiences of transition into postgraduate study. Sport and Exercise Psychology Review. 15 (1)

Eubank, M., Holder, T., Lowry, R., Manley, A., Maynard, I., McCormick, A., Smith, J., Thelwell, R., Woodman, T. and Lafferty, M., (2019). All roads lead to Rome but Rome wasn't built in a day: Advice on QSEP navigation from the 'Roman Gods' of assessment.. Sport and Exercise Psycholgy Review. 15 (2), 21-31

Farina, N. and Lowry, RG., (2018). The Validity of Consumer-Level Activity Monitors in Healthy Older Adults in Free-Living Conditions. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. 26 (1), 128-135

Outar, L., Turner, MJ., Wood, AG. and Lowry, R., (2018). “I need to go to the gym”: Exploring the use of rational emotive behaviour therapy upon exercise addiction, irrational and rational beliefs. Performance Enhancement & Health. 6 (2), 82-93

Burkitt, E., Lowry, R. and Fotheringham, F., (2018). Children's understanding of mixed emotions in self and other: Verbal reports and visual representations. Infant and Child Development. 27 (3), e2076-e2076

Amad, A., Seidman, J., Draper, SB., Bruchhage, MMK., Lowry, RG., Wheeler, J., Robertson, A., Williams, SCR. and Smith, MS., (2017). Motor Learning Induces Plasticity in the Resting Brain—Drumming Up a Connection. Cerebral Cortex. 27 (3), 2010-2021

Birch, PDJ., Crampton, S., Greenlees, IA., Lowry, RG. and Coffee, P., (2017). The mental toughness questionniare-48: A re-examination of factorial validity. International Journal of Sport Psychology. 48 (3), 331-355

Martinelli, LA., Day, MC. and Lowry, R., (2017). Sport coaches’ experiences of athlete injury: the development and regulation of guilt. Sports Coaching Review. 6 (2), 162-178

Burkitt, E. and Lowry, R., (2015). Attitudes and Practices that Shape Children's Drawing Behaviour in Mainstream and Performing Arts Schools. International Journal of Art & Design Education. 34 (1), 25-43

Breslin, G., Hanna, D., Lowry, R., McKee, D., McMullan, K., Haughey, T. and Moore, N., (2012). An exploratory study of specialist and generalist teachers: predicting self-efficacy in delivering primary physical education.. Working Papers in Health Sciences. 1 (1)

Baker, G., Mutrie, N. and Lowry, R., (2011). A comparison of goals set in steps using a pedometer and goals set in minutes: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education. 49 (2), 60-68

McKay, J., Wright, A., Lowry, R., Steele, K., Ryde, G. and Mutrie, N., (2009). Walking on prescription: The utility of a pedometer pack for increasing physical activity in primary care. Patient Education and Counseling. 76 (1), 71-76

Fitzsimons, CF., Baker, G., Wright, A., Nimmo, MA., Ward Thompson, C., Lowry, R., Millington, C., Shaw, R., Fenwick, E., Ogilvie, D., Inchley, J., Foster, CE. and Mutrie, N., (2008). The 'Walking for Wellbeing in the West' randomised controlled trial of a pedometer-based walking programme in combination with physical activity consultation with 12 month follow-up: rationale and study design. BMC Public Health. 8 (1), 259-

Nelson, NM., Wright, A., Lowry, RG. and Mutrie, N., (2008). Article Commentary: Where is the Theoretical Basis for Understanding and Measuring the Environment for Physical Activity?. Environmental Health Insights. 2, EHI.S1048-EHI.S1048

Baker, G., Mutrie, N. and Lowry, R., (2008). Using pedometers as motivational tools: Are goals set in steps more effective than goals set in minutes for increasing walking?. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education. 46 (1), 21-26

Baker, G., Gray, SR., Wright, A., Fitzsimons, C., Nimmo, M., Lowry, R. and Mutrie, N., (2008). The effect of a pedometer-based community walking intervention "Walking for Wellbeing in the West" on physical activity levels and health outcomes: a 12-week randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 5 (1), 44-44

Muldoon, OT., Lowry, RG., Prentice, G. and Trew, K., (2005). The factor structure of the multidimensional measure of children’s perceptions of control. Personality and Individual Differences. 38 (3), 647-657

Scully, D. and Lowry, R., (2002). Why we do - And why we don't!. Psychologist. 15 (8), 418-420

Book chapters (4)

Asiamah, N., Koohsari, MJ. and Lowry, R., (2023). Ageing in Place: The Present and Future Social and Health Threats. In: Sustainable Neighbourhoods for Ageing in Place: An Interdisciplinary Voice Against Global Crises. Editors: Asiamah, N., Khan, HTA., Dintrans, VP., Koohsari, MJ., Mogaji, E., Vieira, ER., Lowry, R. and Mensah, HK., . Springer. 15- 35. 3031415930. 978-3031415937

Martinelli, LA., Day, M. and Lowry, R., (2018). Sport coaches’ experiences of athlete injury: the development and regulation of guilt. In: Emotions in Sport Coaching. Editors: Potrac, P., Smith, A. and Nelson, L., . Routledge. 1351024493. 9781351024495

Lowry, R., (2016). Body Image. In: Sport and Exercise Psychology Practitioner Case Studies. Editors: Cotterill, S., Breslin, G. and Weston, N., . John Wiley & Sons. 373- 394. 1118686527. 9781118686522

Lowry, R., (2008). Doing small scale quantitative research. In: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. McGraw-Hill Education (UK). 0335237649. 9780335237647

Conferences (12)

Lowry, R., Wood, A., Lefever, O. and Tollet, C., Intervening in the community to increase the health, wellbeing, social inclusion and employability of Men: Step by Step Project Protocol and Logic Model

Wood, A., Heaney, C., Sitch, M., Hooper, S. and Lowry, R., More than a tool shed: Piloting a multi-level, multi-method evaluation of the Step-By-Step Project

Lowry, R. and Waller, K., Self-compassion and self-determined motivation towards exercise: An exploration or gender and age differences of regular exercisers

Lowry, R., Burkitt, E., Edmunds, S. and Farina, N., Men in the company of men: A scoping review of the effectiveness of Men’s Sheds

Burkitt, E., Lowry, R. and Purvis, L., The influence of social status and social economic status on adolescent intrinsic motivation for physical activity.

Hammond, A., Lowry, R., Blower, N., Poerio, GL., O'Gorman, R., Chiu, F. and Warsap, G., Documenting The Hidden: Uncovering The Lived Experience Of Young People In Post-COVID 19 Essex

Giacomelli, V., Ball, I., Tyndall, I. and Lowry, R., Development of a COM-B based sexual health model for mid-life and older adults: A work in progress

Giacomelli, V., Ball, I., Tyndall, I. and Lowry, R., Development of a COM-B based sexual health model for mid-life and older adults: A work in progress

Bates, MF., Pring, C., Smith, N., Lowry, RG., Augustus, S. and Hudson, PE., (2020). Changes to Walking Gait and Lower Limb Joint Pain in Patients Post-Bariatric Surgery

Draper, S., Lowry, R., Hale, B. and Smith, M., (2019). Using Rock Drumming to enhance the motor and psychosocial skills of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties

Lowry, R., (2004). Gender differences in the acquisition of a novel skill after verbal or visual instruction

Lowry, R. and Kremer, J., (2004). Exploring intrinsic and extrinsic motivational differences according to choice of physical activity

Reports and Papers (2)

Tyndall, I., Giacomelli, V., Ball, I. and Lowry, R., (2023). SHIFT Project Evaluation Report

Lowry, R., Wood, A., Mouatt, S., Day, M., Hogh, H., Sitch, M. and Bescoby, C., (2022). The Step By Step Project Evaluation Report

Media (1)

Blower, N., Poerio, GL., O'Gorman, R., Lowry, R., Hammond, A. and Chiu, F., WE'RE IN THIS TOO (Documenting The Hidden) documentary film. Video

Grants and funding


Good Company Evaluation

Brentwood County Council

City based interventions to stimulate active movement for health

European Commission

Balance and movement as a biomarker for anxiety and depression

MQ: Transforming Mental Health


A novel treatment for sleep apnoea - taking back control for a better life

University of Essex (ESRC IAA)



University of Chichester (Funder)



University of Chichester (Funder)


University of Chichester (Funder)

Sustaining Post-COVID Volunteer Engagement in England

University of Essex (ESRC IAA)

+44 (0) 1206 872046


ESA.3.26, Colchester Campus