Dr Louisa Peralta is a lecturer in Physical Education and Professional Practice in the Faculty of Education and Social Work.
She is currently undertaking research in three areas:
- The effects of a community school sport-based program on Indigenous adolescents' physical activity and social outcomes. This research project has been partly funded by the new centre through an external donor.
- A ‘Girls in Sport’ project funded by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training. This project specifically targeted girls in Grade 8 in 2009 and Grade 9 in 2010 with the goal of creating school and community environments that encourage and support the full involvement of girls in physical activity, including sport, physical education, recreation and leisure time activities.
- The Active Learning project funded through the University of Western Sydney which aims to increase active learning time in physical education by applying self-determination theory. This theory hypothesises that motivational strategies implemented by physical education teachers can affect student’s motivation by satisfying key psychological needs that enhance their feelings of self-determination.
Dr Peralta’s findings from her PhD (an evaluation of the feasibility, acceptability and potential efficacy of a school-based healthy lifestyle program among adolescent boys) and other health promotion programs have shown that evidence-based multifaceted interventions can encourage children and adolescents to make sustainable and positive changes to their daily physical activity and sedentary behaviours.
The centre focuses on three of the leading causes of mortality and disease burden in Australia: cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. Dr Peralta’s research looks at two of the key risk factors for these three diseases - physical activity and sedentary behaviours.
Through the design of evidence-based health promotion/community/education programs, based on ecological models and motivation theories, Dr Peralta and her fellow researchers are striving to improve adolescents’ physical activity and sedentary behaviours. They aim to prevent and/or reduce the prevalence of these conditions and diseases in adolescence and adulthood.