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Dr Jordan Smith

Dr Jordan Smith
Equipment Grant
2017 Equipment Grant

What are your research interests?

  • Physical activity and youth mental health
  • School-based physical activity promotion
  • Fitness and adolescent health
  • Youth resistance training

Why did you get into research?

As the son of a PE teacher, I experienced first-hand the benefits of an active lifestyle. From a young age, I felt the ‘mood-boosting’ effects of an early morning surf, I experienced the sense of belonging that can occur through team sports, and I felt the reward and satisfaction of mastering a new physical skill.

Through my research, I want to help the current generation of young people live happy and healthy lives, so they too can have the experiences I found so positive and beneficial growing up.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

The ultimate goal of my research, which is very ambitious and perhaps even unrealistic, is to contribute to reversing the trend of global youth inactivity that seems to be a hallmark of modern Western society.

I aim to achieve this in two key ways: first, by generating new evidence of the benefits of physical activity, with a specific focus on outcomes policymakers actually care about; and second, by designing effective and scalable interventions that are embedded within the settings youth spend their time, such as in schools.


Dr Jordan Smith attained a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary)/ Bachelor of Health and Physical Education (Hons) from the University of Newcastle in 2010 and completed his PhD at the same institution in 2015. His doctoral research focused on the development and evaluation of a school-based obesity prevention intervention for disadvantaged and low-active adolescent boys.

As a post-doctoral researcher, Dr Smith has worked on several large-scale projects funded by the ARC and NHMRC. For example, he contributed to the design and evaluation of a school-based physical activity program for adolescents known as ‘Resistance Training for Teens’, which was informed by his PhD research. Notably, the RT for Teens program has been disseminated across NSW, with close to 400 teachers now trained to deliver the program in their schools.

Dr Smith is a Chief Investigator on the NHMRC-funded ‘Burn 2 Learn’ trial exploring the effects of high-intensity interval training on older adolescents’ physical, cognitive and mental health. He is also an Associate Investigator on the NHMRC-funded ‘ecofit’ trial, designed to support community exercise participation using freely available outdoor gyms.

Dr Smith's main area of research focus centres on the mental health benefits of physical activity for youth, and specifically on the impact of fitness and physical activity on stress during adolescence.

He currently holds a mixed research and teaching position within the School of Education at the University of Newcastle, and is co-deputy lead of the ‘School-based research’ theme within UoN’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition.

Future Focus

My near time research focus will be to complete the Burn 2 Learn trial, which is currently ongoing and due to conclude in mid2020. Towards the end of 2019, however, we will be partnering with the NSW Department of Education to disseminate the teacher training component of the Burn 2 Learn program throughout the state.

In addition, the ecofit trial is due to commence in May, 2019 with a rolling recruitment period and start date. Finally, my colleagues and I will soon commence work on a school-based research project examining the impact of exercise on stress, supported by generous community donations from the 2019 Gastronomic Lunch.

Specialised / Technical Skills

Dr Smith has expertise in exercise prescription, physical education pedagogy, intervention design, clinical trial methodology, systematic review methodology, physical activity, fitness and body composition assessment, and multi-level statistical analysis using the SPSS and MPlus statistical packages.


EMCR MRSP Equipment: Physical Activity monitoring equipment
Equipment Grant

Dr Narelle Eather, Dr Jordan Smith, Dr Nick Riley, Dr Drew Miller


15 x ActiGraphTM GT9X Bluetooth enabled Link accelerometers - research grade monitors used for assessing free-living physical activity.