Through the Eyes of a Kinesiology Student…

Each semester, we are given the opportunity to take on a full time practicum student and expose them to the world of health promotion and Be Fit For Life. Meet Ian Fischer and his initial thoughts on his practicum experience…

It Starts with a Spark

The first few weeks have felt like trying to catch up with a class I have not attended enough. I spent the majority of my days reading and studying old notes and resource papers. However, it all fit in easily with what I have already been taught over these past three and a half years. Just as in many other kinesiology courses, there is a good deal of overlap which helps when trying to take in new information. What I have found most exciting is the overlap between what I have been reading and the different experiences I have had personally. Through working at summer camps and as a fitness trainer for minor sports teams, even from back when I was being trained during my years playing soccer, I have found familiarity with the great feeling of health and wellness gained through physical activity.
All of the resources which I have read through have led me to a huge epiphany personally. This is, quite simply, that fitness is not at all relegated to the gym or the track. Imagine that! When I thought of fitness with regards to healthy living general or special populations I often thought it was a matter of either getting them to the gym or bringing the gym to them. It always seemed a matter of adapting workouts to the abilities of these people. However that is not the case at all. The fact is that we can get exercise through a wide variety of daily activities. Our workout does not need to be a part of the daily routine, rather we can make daily routines part of our daily exercise.
And it all helps! Not just our physical self, but our mental and psychological self as well. The proof is all out there, so obviously blatant in the literature. The issue is that it is still fairly unavailable for easy public consumption. Most people have never heard such notions of exercise as a prescription, do not believe it, or choose not to, as the alternative (to not exercise and instead take prescription drugs) is much easier. Even after studying in kinesiology for three years I was surprised by the results I found from papers which explored the benefits of exercise as you might explore a new pharmaceutical. Not only as a means to a healthy body either, but for a healthy mind as well. I enjoyed reading through Spark by John Ratey, which covers many of the benefits of exercise both through research as well as anecdotal evidence. Further evidence of this mind body connection can be found in studies such as the SMILE study (Babyak, M., et al. 2000) which explores exercise as a means to treating depression.
There is far more to the health and fitness promotion sector than meets the eye, much of it is not even noted to the general public. As a result, there are still vast areas left to be explored. Health and fitness can find a seat in more places than the classroom as the Spark program has initiated. It is exciting, and somewhat entertaining, to imagine the implications of a formal “recess” in the downtown core. Yet, with research showing improvement in production and worker happiness (along with decreased sick days) by those companies which promote fitness in the workplace it is not such a joke anymore. Taking an hour to work-out (be it a walk through the +15’s or a trip to the gym) is not actually lost production. In fact productivity has been shown to increase due to these fitness breaks. Alongside that are the many other facets for the promotion of health and wellness such as outdoor pursuits (such as summer camps), community programs and associations, and sports associations.
It is really exciting to be surrounded by such opportunity. It feels as though the public has only recently started to buy into the ideas of physical literacy and exercise as a prescription for both physical and mental maladies, and it is only just picking up steam! I truly believe that fitness and health promotion will be an excitingly busy career path in the coming years. The public is ready, now we just need to lay down the groundwork.