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BSc (Netherlands), MSc (Clinical), PhD (Otago)
Tel +64 3 479 8387
Deputy Director of CARE (Collaboration of Ageing Research Excellence, a University of Otago Research theme)


Lara Vlietstra joined the School in 2022 as a lecturer. After successfully graduating as a physiotherapist (2014, Avans, the Netherlands), she obtained two master's degrees (2017, Clinical Health Sciences, Utrecht University/University Medical Centre Utrecht, and Geriatric Physiotherapy, Avans+) before coming to Otago to complete her PhD in pre-sarcopenia (2021, Department of Medicine & School of Physiotherapy).

Besides her ongoing research projects and her teaching, she is currently the Deputy Director for CARE, a National Executive member of the New Zealand Association of Gerontology (NZAG), Council member for the Australian and New Zealand Society for Sarcopenia and Frailty Research (ANZSSFR) and an Associate Editor for the Australasian Journal on Ageing.


  • SPEX 205 Physical Activity and Health
  • SPEX 310 Exercise for Clinical Populations


Since being awarded a PhD for her thesis on pre-sarcopenia in middle-aged adults, Lara's research has focused on healthy ageing and the prevention of age-related diseases, with a particular focus on physical activity and sarcopenia.

She is currently the co-primary investigator of the GAMES Study. The Games Athletes Medical Evaluation and Status (GAMES) Study is a study that is researching New Zealand Olympians, Paralympians, and Commonwealth Games athletes as they age. Additional research interests include falls and frailty in older adults.

Lara has active research collaborations in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Postgraduate Students

Lara is currently welcoming Honour's and Master's students beginning 2023.


Scoon, C., Walker, X. J., Gale, J. T., Gerrard, D., Peddie, M., Russell-Camp, T., Waters, D. L., Osborne, H., … Vlietstra, L. (2023). The physical function of retired elite athletes compared to the general population: A preliminary analysis. Journal of Sport & Exercise Science, 7(4), (pp. 134). doi: 10.36905/jses.2023.04.01 Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Woolf, L., Cotter, J., Hargreaves, E., & Vlietstra, L. (2023). Psychological and cardiovascular effects of physical activity indoors and outdoors, a cross-over trial. Journal of Sport & Exercise Science, 7(4), (pp. 129-130). doi: 10.36905/jses.2023.04.01 Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Cabral, L. L. P., Browne, R. A. V., Freire, Y. A., Silva, R. d. M., Vlietstra, L., Waters, D. L., … Costa, E. C. (2023). Association of daily step volume and intensity with cardiometabolic risk in older adults. Experimental Gerontology, 179, 112245. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2023.112245 Journal - Research Article

Vlietstra, L. (2023). [Review of the book Healthy ageing and aged care, 2nd ed.]. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 42(2), 439. doi: 10.1111/ajag.13219 Journal - Research Other

de Lucena Alves, C. P., de Almeida, S. B., Pessoa Lima, D., Neto, P. B., Miranda, A. L., Manini, T., Vlietstra, L., Waters, D. L., … Costa, E. C. (2023). Muscle quality in older adults: A scoping review. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 24, 462-467. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2023.02.012 Journal - Research Other

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