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Professor Charlie Foster - University of Bristol. Bristol, , GB

Professor Charlie Foster Professor Charlie Foster

Reader in Physical Activity and Public Health | University of Bristol


Improving public health through physical exercise, sports and outdoor activities

Areas of Expertise (7)

Mental Health

Public Health


Physical Activity


Sports and Recreation

Healthy Living


Charlie Foster OBE is the Head of the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences. He influences public guidance about the types and levels of physical activity needed to offset health concerns and has produced UK national guidelines on physical activity for every age group.

Dr Foster's specialisms include communicating exercise guidelines to healthcare professionals, common measurements of public health improvements, the benefits of hi-intensity physical activity (HIT) sessions, the impact of regular exercise on the brain, and the relationship between accessing green spaces and positive mental health.

Dr Foster is one of the UK's leading epidemiologists for physical activity and health and was awarded an OBE for his services to physical activity promotion in 2019. Outside of the UK, he has worked with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA, and the government of South Korea. He has also been the President of the International Society of Physical Activity and Health. He provided evidence and expert testimony to the House of Lords All Party Parliamentary COVID-19 Committee on the impact of Covid on physical activity and the impact of technology use on health.






Bristol Research: the Digital Fireside Talks. #3: Exercise in a State of Lockdown SCPHRP meets...  Dr Charlie Foster Charlie Foster



Accomplishments (3)

Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the promotion of physical activity


Elected Fellow by Distinction (FFPH), Faculty of Public Health


President of International Society for Physical Activity and Health


Education (3)

University of Warwick: Ph.D., Medical Sciences 2006

Birmingham City University: M.Sc., Health Promotion 1997

University of Exeter: B.Ed., Education 1989

Media Appearances (5)

The over-40s really DO lower chance of death by taking 10,000 steps a day and even 8,000 have 'substantial benefit' says new research

Daily Mail  online


Dr Charlie Foster, Bristol University academic and the chair of the UK Chief Medical Officer's Expert Committee for Physical Activity, said 'any activity will be good for your physical and mental health with benefits at lower levels of total steps'. He added: 'Walk and keep at least two metres away from others (except those in your house) once a day for your health and wellbeing'.

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Higher step counts could lower risk of early death, study finds

The Guardian  online


“This study shows that any activity will be good for your physical and mental health with benefits at lower levels of total steps, and more mortality benefits seen at higher levels,” he said. While he noted that walking can be done by those of all ages, he said physical distancing was paramount to reduce the spread of Covid-19. “So walk and keep at least two metres away from others (except those in your house) once a day for your health and wellbeing,” Foster said.

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Coronavirus: How to exercise while staying at home

BBC News  online


Public spaces such as swimming pools and gyms are not banned - but if you use them, be sure their equipment and surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned. And of course you can do your bit cleaning any equipment you use. Dr Foster says it's preferable to exercise outside. Team sports are not advised for now - but tennis is ok for the moment as long as you wash your hands first, don't shake hands afterwards and keep your distance.

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Any amount of running reduces risk of early death, study finds

The Guardian  online


Dr Charlie Foster of Bristol University, who chairs the UK chief medical officers’ expert committee for physical activity, said: “Find the activity you enjoy the most and stick with it. But if you can’t run, walk as much as you can too.”

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UK CMOs: When it comes to physical activity some is good, but more is better

The BMJ Opinion  online


New guidelines demonstrate the comprehensive benefits of any physical activity for anyone, say the UK’s Chief Medical Officers.

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Articles (5)

A critical evaluation of systematic reviews assessing the effect of chronic physical activity on academic achievement, cognition and the brain in children and adolescents: a systematic review

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity

2020 International and national committees have started to evaluate the evidence for the effects of physical activity on neurocognitive health in childhood and adolescence to inform policy. Despite an increasing body of evidence, such reports have shown mixed conclusions.

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Bump start needed: linking guidelines, policy and practice in promoting physical activity during and beyond pregnancy

British Journal of Sports Medicine

2020 There is compelling evidence that regular physical activity (PA) during pregnancy benefits both mother and baby. Notably, physical and psychological benefits are evident in the literature, such as marked reductions in the development of gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders, alongside improvements in depressive symptoms and cardiorespiratory fitness.

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“WALK30X5”: a feasibility study of a physiotherapy walking programme for people with mild to moderate musculoskeletal conditions


2020 To explore the feasibility of delivering and evaluating a web-based walking intervention for people with long term musculoskeletal conditions (LTMCs), to determine its acceptability and the feasibility of conducting a definitive trial. Design Prospective randomised feasibility study, with blind outcome assessment at baseline, 3 and 6 months. Setting Hospital based physiotherapy service.

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“Let’s Talk about Physical Activity”: Understanding the Preferences of Under-Served Communities when Messaging Physical Activity Guidelines to the Public

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

2020 Despite many countries having physical activity guidelines, there have been few concerted efforts to mobilize this information to the public. The aim of this study was to understand the preferences of under-served community groups about how the benefits of physical activity, and associated guidelines, can be better communicated to the public.

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Testing self-report time-use diaries against objective instruments in real time

Sociological Methodology

2019 This study provides a new test of time-use diary methodology, comparing diaries with a pair of objective criterion measures: wearable cameras and accelerometers. A volunteer sample of respondents (n = 148) completed conventional self-report paper time-use diaries using the standard UK Harmonised European Time Use Study (HETUS) instrument.

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