Danielle Harris

Title: Addressing the effects of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown deconditioning

PhD summary

Physical activity levels amongst older adults reduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic due to lockdowns and national shielding guidelines. These reductions in physical activity have led to a “deconditioning epidemic”. Deconditioning is defined as “the syndrome of physical, psychological and functional decline that occurs as a result of prolonged inactivity and associated loss of muscle strength”.

Modelling based on current trends predicts without mitigation the number of falls in older adults is expected to increase. Therefore, there is a need for physical activity interventions targeted at older adults to reverse the effects of deconditioning.

This research aims to

i) understand the attitudes, barriers and enablers to engaging in physical activity during and since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns for older adults

ii) develop a tailored intervention, co-designed with a PPIE group of older adults, aimed at increasing physical activity and reducing the effects of Covid-19 deconditioning for this group

iii) carry out a feasibility study to test the acceptability of the intervention with a sample of older adults


September 2022 - September 2025


Dunhill Medical Trust / NiHR / University of Manchester

Institution name

The University of Manchester


Discipline area

Healthy Ageing Research, Health Behaviour Change

Short biography 

I graduated from The University of Manchester with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a MSc in Health Psychology. I then went on to work for Public Health England in the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Disease Registration Service (NCARDRS) before joining the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Greater Manchester (ARC-GM) here at the university in December 2019. I worked as a research assistant within the ARC-GM Healthy Ageing Theme on different projects across the areas of menopause, frailty, falls prevention and digital inclusion.

My research interests are in healthy ageing, health behaviour change, physical activity promotion and health inequalities. I have experience in conducting mixed methods research and evidence syntheses.

Contact details

Email: danielle.harris@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk