Upcoming event in Scotland: Scottish Physical Activity Research Connections (SPARC) Conference 2023!

The 8th annual SPARC conference will take place at the University of Edinburgh, UK on Wednesday 8th November 2023 – the first in-person SPARC event since the pandemic.

What is SPARC?

The Scottish Physical Activity Research Connections (SPARC) was established in 2016 as a network of physical activity researchers, policy-makers and practitioners in Scotland. SPARC has an annual conference co-hosted by the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC) at the University of Edinburgh and the Active Scotland Division of the Scottish Government. SPARC 2023 will celebrate 20 years since ‘Let’s make Scotland more active’ was released in 2003 and this will be woven into the overall theme of the conference with an overarching ethos of ‘Making Lives Better – 20 years on’.

What can I expect?

The programme for the day begins with a welcome from the Director of PAHRC, Professor Marie Murphy and Ms Maree Todd, MSP, Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport, Scottish Government. This will be followed by a keynote from Dr Alison Kirk, Reader in Physical Activity for Health at the University of Strathclyde. Dr Kirk will reflect on progress and refinements that has been made in physical activity for health guidelines to make more people more active in Scotland, and having worked in the field of physical activity for health as a researcher in Scotland for 20 years will present highlights of her research contributions to the field.

Following the keynote session, delegates will move to one of six knowledge exchange sessions on ‘Hot topics’ in physical activity for health at the moment in Scotland. These sessions have been designed to facilitate discussion and interaction between practitioners, policy makers and academics to consider progress in the field of physical activity for health in Scotland and reflect on priorities going forward. Topics are:

  1. Connecting research, policy and practice in Scotland from SPARC and beyond – how do we continue discussions for the next 12 months?
  2. Physical Activity messaging and communication
  3. 24 hour movement/non-movement behaviours and guidelines
  4. Is Scotland walking in the right direction? Analysis of trends in walking and reflections for policy and practice
  5. Engaging hard-to-reach populations in regular physical activity in Scotland
  6. Research evidence and practitioner experience of using physical activity to support mental health in Scotland

Conference delegates will then be given the opportunity to showcase their work via poster and oral presentations, presenting academic research or case studies of good practice that are about Scotland, Scottish data, Scottish projects or present work that is transferable to a Scottish context or setting.

The day will conclude with a ‘Panel Discussion’ involving 6 experts who have been involved in the journey of physical activity for health in Scotland over the last 20 years – or who can help us shape key priorities for the next 20 years. Prior to this session, conference delegates will have the opportunity to feed-in to this discussion by leaving comments at stations around the conference venue. These comments will be collated and presented to the panel of experts for discussion. Further details on the experts taking part in the panel discussion are available on the SPARC website.

How do I attend?

Submit an abstract

SPARC welcomes abstracts that present academic research or case studies of good practice. For guidance on academic abstracts, click here. For guidance on good practice abstracts, click here. Deadline for abstract submission is Friday 29th September 5pm GMT. Please click here for further information about abstract submission. 


To secure your spot and register for the conference, please click here. Registration closes Friday 20th October.




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