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Prof. Alan Donnelly

Professor of Exercise Science and EHS Assistant Dean of Research
Department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences
University of Limerick
Contact: 00-353-61-202808
Fax: 00-353-61-202814



Professor Alan Donnelly is Professor of Exercise Physiology in the Dept. of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at UL.  He is currently Assistant Dean for Research for the Faculty of Education and Health Sciences.  Prof. Donnelly is director of the Centre for Physical Activity and Health Research (C-PAHR) at UL.  This research centre was established in 2011, and  brings  together 19 academics and researchers to undertake multidisciplinary research on the effects of physical activity on health.   

Alan teaches on the undergraduate programmes of Sport and Exercise Science, Physiotherapy, and taught postgraduate programmes in Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy. His research interests include:

The effects of physical activity on health, particularly the role of sedentary behaviour on the health of young people and adults.  He leads a team of researchers employing accelerometers and related technology to directly quantify sedentary behaviour and physical activity in large cohorts of volunteers.  The team employs objective data from these devices to examine the relationship between these behaviours and indices of health.  The aim is to achieve a better understanding of sedentary and physical activity behaviours in order to guide policy and to develop interventions to improve health.  Further research examined the relationship between exercise and cognitive function in the elderly.

The causes and treatment of exercise-induced muscle damage: exercise induced muscle damage underlies the soreness experienced in the days after exercise.  Research led by Prof. Donnelly has examined the effects of damage on muscle antioxidant status and on muscle connective tissue.  Current work examines the effects of different modes of cryotherapy on damaged muscle, and on muscle function in general.


Joseph Costello:  The effects of cryotherapy on muscle function.

Kieran Dowd (IRCSET Scholar):  Physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health in female adolescents.

Jennifer Joyce:   Effects of acute and chronic exercise on cognitive function in the elderly.

Karen McCreesh:  (HRB Clinical Research Fellow) Rotator cuff tendinopathy: an investigation of clinical and diagnostic ultrasound parameters before, during and after a structured exercise programme.


Recent ISI listed journal publications.

* Costello JT, Algar LA, Donnelly AE . Effects of whole-body cryotherapy (-110C) on proprioception and indices of muscle damage.  Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2011.01292.x. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 21477164,  2011.

* Harrington DM, Welk GJ, Donnelly AE  Validation of MET estimates and step measurement using the ActivPAL physical activity logger.  J Sports Sciences 29(6) 627-633, 2011.

* Brown SJ and Donnelly AE  Changes in human skeletal muscle length during stimulated eccentric contractions  J Physiol Sci 61; 31-36 2011.

* Costello JT and Donnelly AE.  Effects of cold-water immersion on knee joint position sense in healthy volunteers.  J Sports Sciences 29:5 449-456 2011.

* Costello JT, Donnelly AE Cryotherapy and Joint Position Sense in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review  J Athletic Training: 45  ( 3)    306-316   2010

* McGinley C, Shafat A, Donnelly AE  Does antioxidant vitamin supplementation protect against muscle damage?  Sports Med 39(12) 1011-1032 2009.

* Byrne C.A., O'Keefe D.T., Donnelly AE, Lyons, GM Effect of walking speed changes on tibialis anterior EMG during healthy gait for FES envelope design in drop foot correction. J. Electromyog. Kinesiol. 17(5); 605-616, 2007.

* Kilgallon M, Donnelly AE & Shafat A.  Progressive resistance training temporarily alters hamstring torque-angle relationship. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 17(1) 18-24, 2007.

* Mackey A.L., Donnelly A.E., Turpeenniemi-Hujanen T., Roper H.P.  Skeletal muscle collagen content in humans after high-force eccentric contractions.  J. Appl. Physiol. 97: 197-203, 2004.

Recent Research Abstracts

  • Harrington DM, Dowd KP, Tudor-Locke C, Donnelly AE (2011) Cadence (steps/minute) patterns in high and low active adolescent females.  Med Science Sports Exerc 43(5) S485.

  • Dowd KP, Harrinton DM, Donnelly AE. (2010) The examination of accelerometry output: age/non-age specific thresholding and bout duration. Med Science Sport Exerc 42(5), S337.
  • Joyce J, Smyth PJ, Donnelly AE. (2010) An examination of the relationship between ageing, cardiovascular fitness and aspects of cognitive functioning, Med Science Sport Exerc 42(5),  S519
  • Costello JT and Donnelly AE (2010)  Whole body cryotherapy reduces isometric force, knee propriocveption and tympanic temperature. Med Science Sport Exerc 42(5),  S372
  • Harrington DM and Donnelly AE (2010) 24-hour objectively measured sedentary behaviour in adolescent females. Med Science Sport Exerc 42(5), S184
  • J. T. Costello, L. A. Algar, B. J. Kehoe, S. W. Kelleher, L. J. Coughlan1, A. E. Donnelly (2010)    Effects of Cold Air Cryotherapy (-110 oC) on Muscle Soreness and Function Following Eccentric Exercise in Humans  J Physiol  Proc Physiol Soc 19 C16
  • Algar LA, Doyle KM, Conan LP, O'Sullivan LM, Donnelly AE (2009) The effects of alternating hot and cold water immersion on recovery of muscle function after resistance training in humans. Proc Physiol Soc 15, PC110
  • Donnelly AE, C. A. Cuddihy CA,  S. T. O'Brien ST, K. D. Higgins KD, Mason CN, Shafat A (2009) Comparison of dynamic and isometric assessments of muscle angle-torque relationships in human knee extensors and flexors. Proc Physiol Soc 15 PC106
  • Harrington, D. & Donnelly, A. (2009). A Physical Activity and Lifestyle Education Intervention in Irish Adolescent Females. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise 41(5),p:119.
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