Tony Okely

Tony Okely

Position: Professorial Fellow and Director, Early Start Institute
Phone: (02) 4221 4641


Professor Anthony Okely is Director of the Early Start Research Institute at the University of Wollongong, Australia and Theme Leader in the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute. He has been awarded over $10 Million in competitive funding, including being Principal Investigator on two National Health and Medical Research Council Project grants. He has published over 180 peer-reviewed journal articles, four book chapters, and four policy-related monographs or reports; has around 8,000 career citations, and his h index is 49.

Okely’s research focuses on physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and gross motor skills in children. It encompasses observational studies that describe the prevalence and patterns of these behaviours; relationships with health, education, and other developmental outcomes; interventions; and guideline development.

Okely led the research team that developed – and are currently updating – the Australian Physical Activity Recommendations for Children 0-5 years, and the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Children and Young People and was an international expert on the Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years, the Canadian 24-hr Integrated Movement Guidelines for the Early Years and for Children and Youth, and the Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Canadian Children and Youth. He was also a member of the Early Years Expert Working Group for the UK Physical Activity Guidelines in 2011.

UOW Scholars Profile - Tony Okely

Research Interests

Development, implementation and evaluation of school-, prior-to-school-, and community-based interventions to promote and increase physical activity and movement skills and reduce sedentary behaviour and to prevent and treat child and adolescent obesity; measurement of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and fundamental movement skills.

Professional Activities

  • NHMRC Project Grants Peer Review Panel (GRP): Endocrinology, Diabetes, Nutrition & Obesity Panel.
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.
  • External Expert on National Heart Foundation of Australia Position Statement on Sedentary Behaviour in Children.


  • 2012 Vice-Chancellors Interdisciplinary Research Excellence Award, University of Wollongong
  • 2010 Vice-Chancellors Award for Excellence in Research Supervision, University of Wollongong. Highly Commended

Research Students

  • Karen Tonge (Doctor of Philosophy): The relationship between educator engagement and interaction and children's physical activity in early childhood education and care services
  • Myrto-Foteini Mavilidi (Doctor of Philosophy): Effects of Physical activities and gestures on learning a foreign language vocabulary in Pre-school children
  • Yvonne Ellis (Doctor of Philosophy): Sitting time in Young Children at Childcare: How much and how to intervene?
  • Jo-Anne Edwards (Doctor of Philosophy): What are the experiences of young Aboriginal women who participate in a program to continue the transmission of local Aboriginal knowledges on the south coast of NSW
  • Sanne Veldman (Doctor of Philosophy): Gross Motor Skills in the Early Years
  • Michele Peden (Doctor of Philosophy): Evidence Based technology-mediated professional learning package for Early Childhood Education and Care addressing physical activity and nutrition behaviours of young children
  • Megan Hammersley (Doctor of Philosophy): Time2bHealthy: The effect of an online behaviour change program for parents of preschool-aged children
  • Diarmuid Hurley (Doctor of Philosophy): A Sports-Based Family Intervention to Promote Mental Health among Adolescent males.
  • Lyndel Hewitt (Doctor of Philosophy): Understanding and Promoting Gross Motor Skills in Young Children
  • Christel van Loo (Doctor of Philosophy): Validation and calibration of activity monitors in children
Last reviewed: 6 March, 2017