Physical activity for better health and drive (PhAB-HeaD)

Project information

In 2050, it is estimated that 16% of the population will be made up of individuals aged 65 years and over. At this age, dementia rates begin doubling every 6 years, and more minor cognitive decline can threaten independence by making it harder to do day-to-day activities, like driving.

Though age can be associated with cognitive decline and increasing risk of dementia, we can take action to keep ourselves as healthy and independent as possible. There is substantial evidence for the benefits of exercise, and the benefits of cognitive training for maintaining and improving cognitive health as we age. It is less clear is whether doing both exercise and cognitive training at the same time is more beneficial than doing them separately.

This research project will explore the potential benefit of physical and cognitive training alone as well as a combined approach of concurrent physical and cognitive training as a protective mechanism against known cognitive changes due to ageing such as decline in cognitive function and driving skills.

The PhABHeaD study is a multi-disciplinary collaborative study that seeks to foster maximum engagement of all those involved, and to achieve high quality research in a supportive, ethical environment. The PhABHeaD study and related data are jointly owned by ANU and the University of Canberra.

If you:

  • Are aged 60-75, living within the community, and
  • Are Sedentary to recreationally active, and
  • Hold a current and valid drivers licence, and
  • Have no history of significant neurological, psychiatric, visual or auditory impairment, or
  • Have no history of physical impairment that may preclude participation in the physical activity conditions

Then you are invited to participate in the Physical Activity for Better Health and Drive (PhAB-HeaD) study!

If you might be interested in taking part in our 12-week training intervention where you will undertake weekly cycling, cognitive training, or both at once, and have a chance to experience our state-of-the-art driving simulator, click here to read our study information sheet to learn more about the details, and contact our research team via: to enquire about study participation.

Download participant information form

Project status


Research centre

University of Canberra - Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (RISE)

Australian National University - National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH)

Project Team (Principal Investigators)


Prof Ben Rattray (UC Lead, RISE: Exercise physiology, Exercise training, Cardio-vascular fitness, Cognitive training


Prof Nicolas Cherbuin (ANU Lead, NCEPH: Epidemiology, Cognition, Neurodegeneration, Mental health



Dr Joe Northey

Dr Jeroen Van Boxtel

Associate Prof Kate Pumpa

Ms Vicky McCarthy (PhD candidate)

Mrs Amanda Scott (Masters candidate)


A/Prof Anne Bruestle

Dr Richard Burns

Dr Erin Walsh

Dr Jo Lane

Ms Tergel Namsrai (PhD candidate)

Mr Nicholas Lawlis (Research assistant)

University of Melbourne

Dr Amit Lampit

Talk to us

If you are interested in participating in the study and would like to find out more, please contact our research team through the email below.