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Gareth Jones

Dr. Gareth Jones PhD, MSc, BSc

Behavioural Health Psychologist


My research interests orientate around positive behaviour change, physical activity promotion, and whole system approaches to enable folk to lead physically active lives.

I focus my research within two domains; children and young people and people with severe mental ill health. Regarding children and young people, I lead various behaviour change programme that support and promote physical activity behaviour, enabling children to benefit their physical and mental health, as well as supporting learning, attainment, behaviour and academic performance. Regarding those with severe mental ill health, my research focuses on intervention development and implementation in both NHS and community settings, again with the aim of enabling this population to benefit from living a more physically active life.  


My educational background includes a first class honour's undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science with Coaching (Northumbria University), a masters degree in Psychology of Sport and Exercise Behaviour (Northumbria University), and a second psychology (BPS conversion course) masters degree (Sheffield Hallam University). I have also completed a PhD in behavioural health psychology at the University of Sheffield, department of psychology. My PhD explored the impact of significant life transitions of physical activity behaviour.

I joined Sheffield Hallam University, Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre (SPARC), Physical Activity, Wellbeing and Public Health (PAWPH) team, in 2016 after completing my PhD. I currently work on various projects around the theme of behaviour change, psychology, physical activity promotion and whole systems thinking. My work concentrates on children and young people and people with severe mental ill health.

Within the children and young people realm, I support Sheffield's whole system approach to physical activity, Move More, where I concentrate my efforts on the education subgroup. Examples of impact within this role include co-producing a whole school approach to to physical activity, the PESSPA Toolkit (PE, School Sport, Physical Activity), and leading on a programme designed to influence the physical environment within a community of health deprivation, building a state of the art cycling facility, enabling people (with a focus on children and young people) to live more active lives through engagement with the cycling facility.

PESSPA Toolkit:
Cycling facility programme: Search @Hillsboroughpumptrack on social media.

My work with people with severe mental ill health focuses on intervention design to aid this population to live a more active life, benefiting their physical, mental, social and emotional health. A key programme here is the SPACES trial, which aims to implement physical activity programmes into existing NHS pathways.

My expertise lay within psychological theory and behaviour change research. My knowledge of relevant theories and implementation methods, optimise the potential study impact by being grounded in theories and practices that are known to work. 

Subject Area

Psychological theory and behaviour change theory. 


Academy of Sport and Physical Activity

College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences


SPACES - NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research funded. Embedding physical activity into NHS pathways

Physical environment for behaviour change - Access Sport, Sheffield City Council funded. Creating a new cycling facility and behaviour change programme to support children and young people from an area of health deprivation to live more active lives

PESSPA Toolkit - National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine funded. Co-producing a whole school approach to physical activity to enable children to live a more active life. 


Current research projects 

• Jones, G., and Norman, P. (2021). Predicting exercise after university: An application of the reasoned action approach across a significant life transition. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 1-12. DOI:10.1080/13548506.2021.1890160

• Jones, G., McIntosh, E., Brose, L., & Klonizakis, M. (2021). Participant experiences of a quit smoking attempt through either Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) methods or the use of an e-cigarette. Journal of Addiction Medicine. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000881

• Walker L., Dawson, S., Gascoyne, S., Hillison, E., Jonse, G., Wildbore, E., & Peckham E. (2023). Co-Producing a Physical Activity Intervention with and for people with Severe Mental Ill Health. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health.

• Jones, G., Williams, S., & Longbon, K. (2022). Exploring the acceptability and feasibility of a whole school approach to physical activity in UK primary schools: A qualitative approach. BMC Public Health.

• Peckham, E., Tew, G., Lorimer, B., Bailey, L., Beeken, R., Cooper, C., Gascoyne, S., Gilbody, S., Jones, G., Machaczek, K., Traviss-Turner, G., Stubbs, B. (2023) Interventions to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour in severe mental ill health: how effective are they?’- a systematic review. Mental Health and Physical Activity (in press).

Selected research projects 


Jones, G., & Norman, P. (2021). Predicting exercise after university: an application of the reasoned action approach across a significant life transition. Psychology, Health & Medicine.

Conference papers

Jones, G. (2014). Applying an extended version of the theory of planned behaviour to understand exercise behaviour after leaving university. Journal of Sports Sciences.


Vernon, T., Quirke, H., Jones, G., Daly-Smith, A., Broom, D., O'Hagan, C., ... Shibli, S. (2019). Active Lives Children and Young People Comparison Study.


Jones, G. (2019). Investigating the impact of online classroom resources on pupil physical activity, wellbeing and behaviour. Presented at: CBC: Digital Health Conference, University College London

Jones, G. (2017). A city case study of a Whole System Approach to physical activity: Move More. Presented at: Behaviour Change Network Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University


Jones, G. (2019). Active learning and classrooms: Impact on pupil physical activity, wellbeing, behaviour and teacher confidence. Presented at: YoHPAKE Conference, University of Huddersfield

Other activities

I chair the 'Children and Young People Physical Activity and Sport Research Group'.
I am a board member of the 'Sheffield Children and Young People and Families Consortium'.
I am a board member of 'Onboard Skatepark'.

Postgraduate supervision

I am a PhD supervisor for the 'Move More Evaluation', 2023-2026. 

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