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Dr Zoe Saynor

Senior Lecturer

Zoe Saynor


I graduated from Bangor University in 2009 with a BSc in Sports Science (1st Class Hons.) and in 2010 with an MSc in Exercise Rehabilitation (Distinction). I then undertook a PhD within the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre at the University of Exeter, before joining the department in Portsmouth in 2014. I am currently a Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health and the lead for the Clinical, Health and Rehabilitation research Team (CHaRT). I am also a Guest Lecturer on the MSc Physiotherapy course at University College London and have been a visiting academic at several national and international institutions. I regularly deliver invited talks at national and international external organisations and sit on a number of expert groups, such as the European Cystic Fibrosis Society Exercise Working Group and the British Renal Society Rehabilitation Network. We have a vibrant and active research group and my current research interests focus on exercise testing, training and nutrition for individuals with chronic disease(s). I also have an interest in using exercise evaluations to assess the mechanisms of action of pharmacological treatments. Current and previous research has spanned the lifespan, from pre-pubertal children to the elderly, and has involved working with people with the following health conditions: cystic fibrosis, non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, asthma, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, type II diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, arthritis, joint hypermobility and Raynaud's phenomenon. I am also interested in how exercise in extreme environmental conditions (i.e. cold and hot temperatures, hypoxia) can be either a risk or a potential treatment intervention for people with chronic health conditions. 

Research Interests

Broad research specialisms:

  • The benefits and risks of exercise training in individuals with chronic health conditions
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise testing and exercise training for clinical groups;
  • That factors limiting oxidative metabolism (e.g. maximal oxygen uptake, oxygen uptake kinetics) in patient groups;
  • Chronic respiratory disease (particularly cystic fibrosis);
  • The risks and benefits of extreme environmental conditions on health;
  • Children’s health and exercise.

My primary research interests are focused on the benefits of exercise testing and training in clinical populations. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing is a valuable tool which can provide important clinical information regarding function and longevity and quality of life. Exercise training provides a powerful therapeutic intervention against the negative effects brought about by a chronically diseased state and I am interested in pursuing the most effective training modalities and the implementation of these into clinical practice. I am also particularly interested in the mechanism(s) by which disease pathophysiology affects an individual's cardiopulmonary and muscular function during exercise, in addition to other issues such as cardiovascular, metabolic and bone health. 

Teaching Responsibilities

  • U30078: Physical Activity & Exercise for Healthy Ageing – Level 5 (module coordinator)
  • U30917: Clinical Exercise Physiology – MSc Level (module coordinator)
  • U30064: Introduction to Sport & Exercise Physiology - Level 4
  • Undergraduate and MSc level research projects
  • MPhil and PhD Research Supervisor

In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I chair the departmental Extenuating Circumstances Committee, am a member of the Athena Swan Working Group and mentor and IQA for the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) Level 2 Gym Instructor Qualification. 

I am also an external reviewer for a number of journals, including:

  • Cochrane (Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group); Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine; Archives of Disease in Childhood; Pediatric Pulmonology; Journal of Cystic Fibrosis; Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; European Journal of Applied Physiology; Journal of Applied Physiology; Experimental Physiology; Journal of Sports Sciences; Pediatric Exercise Science; BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation; Respiratory Care; Nursing Research; Physiotherapy Theory and Practice; Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention; Clinical Medical Insights: Circulatory, Respiratory and Pulmonary Medicine; PLOS One; Journal of Asthma and Allergy; International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Pediatric Health, Medicine and Therapeutics; Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics; Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.

I am also an active reviewer for external grant bodies, such as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit Grant scheme, and have provided external expertise for Research Excellence Framework (REF)-related activities.

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