There is overwhelming evidence that physical activity, exercise, and sport play a key and perhaps preventative role in the evolution of chronic diseases. An increased understanding of the relationship between human movement, functioning and health is therefore highly relevant to our quality of life.

Research within SMARTmovements is dedicated to the scientific study of human motor behaviour and its optimisation throughout the lifespan. We view motor behaviour as the output of an on-going interaction between perceptual, cognitive and motor processes, and the social, technical and physical context in which they occur.

Our key research themes:

  • the perceptual-motor mechanisms underpinning gait,
  • balance and fall prevention; 
  • the influence of physical activity on cognition, and physical and mental fitness;
  • characteristics of performance and expertise;
  • optimisation of performance and functional recovery;
  • and motor learning, development and neuromuscular control of perceptual motor skills.

SMARTmovements is a collaboration between, and led by, staff from the Center of Human Movement Sciences.


Physical activity is key in preventing disease

Beyond the simple enjoyment of sport and leisure physical activity, a sufficient amount of physical activity, sports and exercise can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension, cancer, musculoskeletal diseases, and psychological disorders.

Physical activity can play a key role in counteracting weight gain and obesity, a major challenge to successful ageing and public health. Regular physical activity can also

  • improve school children’s academic performance,
  • productivity at work,
  • prevent secondary impairments in persons with disability,
  • and slow cognitive decline in old age.

Through our research we learn:

  • The physiological, neural, cognitive, and biomechanical mechanisms of movement;
  • How children, adults, or elderly individuals with and without disability acquire motor skills, control movement
  • How they improve functioning, and adapt to increased or decreased levels of physical activity, and to exercise programmess.

Our research groups are:

  • Focuses on understanding the psychological, physiological and social consequences of movement, in particular the relationship between movement, lifestyle, and the physical and mental condition and resilience of elderly people.

  • Focuses on understanding and effectiveness of diagnosis, treatment, assessment and adaptive technologies, in children and adults with impairments that hinder normal motor and day-to-day functioning.

  • Focuses on the relationship between physical and cognitive aspects of motor learning and performance in recreational and professional sports, and how these can be adapted to optimise performance.


University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG)
Institute SHARE
SMART - Smart Movements
P.O. Box 196
9700 AD Groningen
The Netherlands