Dr Andy Sparks

Reader in Exercise Physiology

Research Group and Institute

  • Sports Performance, Exercise & Nutrition Research Group


Andy Sparks is a Reader in Exercise Physiology in the Department of Sport and Physical Activity, where he is the Postgraduate Research Contact and leads the Sport and Exercise Nutrition pathway on the Sport and Exercise Science BSc Programme. Andy joined Edge Hill in 2009 having worked as a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader at the University of Cumbria (2007-2009). Prior to that he worked as a Lecturer and Programme Leader for Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Westminster (2004-2007). He was awarded his PhD from Liverpool John Moores University in Exercise Physiology (2004) having completed his BSc in Sport Science also at LJMU (1998).


Andy’s research interest is primarily in endurance exercise performance, especially cycling. His work mainly focuses on the acute factors that affect sport and exercise performance, either via nutritional interventions (amino acids, macronutrients, dietary nitrate, sodium bicarbonate and fluid) or by manipulating environmental factors (ambient temperature, altitude, competitor presence, verbal encouragement). Each of these areas of interest have potentially wide reaching impact for large proportions of the population, and it is this rather than elite sport performance which he is using as the basis to increase the reach and impact of his research work. Recently he has been engaging with the popular media in order to translate complex research into easy to understand and usable information. This approach can have meaningful impact on those wanting to enhance exercise performance, adherence and optimising nutritional intake. Andy is publishing regularly in high impact peer-reviewed journals, and currently has over 50 of these publications.

External Engagement

Andy’s external engagement activities include:

  • Editorial board member of Frontiers in Nutrition and the Journal of Science and Cycling.
  • Invited presentation at Vitafoods Europe 2018, Geneva, Switzerland: Applications of astaxanthin in sports nutrition.
  • Media contributions for Men’s Running Magazine, BBC Radio Lancashire and a research feature for Outside Online Magazine.
  • Leading a public engagement initiative for local athletes – Putting Science into Practice: Endurance exercise seminar series (March 2018- Ongoing).
  • External validation panel member for several BSc programmes across the UK.
  • External examiner for Sport and Exercise Science BSc at Coventry University.
  • External examiner for Sport and Exercise Science MSc at the University of Chester.

Selected Publications

  • Caruana Bonnici, D., Greig, M., Akubat, I., Sparks, S.A., Bentley, D., and Mc Naughton, L.R. (2019). Nutrition in Soccer: A brief review of the issues and solutions. Journal of Sport Science and Exercise, (In Press).
  • Pugh, J.N, Sparks, S.A., Doran, D.A., Fleming, S.C., Langan-Evans, C., Kirk, B., Fearn, R., Morton, J.P., and Close, G.L. (2019). Four weeks of probiotic supplementation reduces GI symptoms during a marathon race. European Journal of Applied Physiology, (E-Pub ahead of print). DOI: 10.1007/s00421-019-04136-3.
  • Mosher, S., Gough, L., Deb. S.K., Saunders, B., McNaughton, L.R., Brown, D., and Sparks, S.A., (2019). High Dose Nitrate Ingestion Does Not Improve 40 km Cycling Time Trial Performance in Trained Cyclists. Research in Sports Medicine, (In Press). DOI: 10.1080/15438627.2019.1586707.
  • Hilton, N.P., Leach, N.K., Sparks, S.A., Gough, L.A., Craig, M.M., Deb, S.K., McNaughton, L.R. (2019). A novel ingestion strategy for sodium bicarbonate supplementation in a delayed-release form: a randomised crossover study in trained males. Sports Medicine Open, 5(4). DOI: 10.1186/s40798-019-0177-0.
  • Gough, L., Brown, D.R., Deb., S.K., Sparks, S.A., and McNaughton, L.R. (2019). The effects of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on cycling performance and acid base balance recovery in acute normobaric hypoxia. Journal of Sports Sciences, (In Press). DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2019.1568173.
  • Sanders, G.J., Boddy, L.M., Sparks, S.A., Curry, W.B., Roe, B., Kaehne, A., Fairclough, S.J. (2019). Evaluation of wrist and hip sedentary behaviour and moderate-to-vigorous physical. Journal of Sports Sciences, (In Press). DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2018.1555904