Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Human kinetics honours students present research at Exercise of Medicine conference

July 4th, 2017
Erin Visser and Darragh Monaghan

Two StFX human kinetics honours students, Erin Visser and Darragh Monaghan, had the opportunity to present their summer research at the recent Exercise is Medicine Student Research Conference held in London, ON on June 23, 2017. 

The fourth year students’ oral presentations focused largely on their honours research, which involves examining the effects of a community-based, family-centered exercise intervention on pediatric cancer.  

Mr. Monaghan says that it was a terrific opportunity to present their research in front of graduate students and researchers in the health field.

Ms. Visser, who is also an academic All-Canadian athlete with X-Women Soccer, adds that it was an appropriate conference to choose because their study really does emphasize the importance of exercise as a form of medicine.

“I think that people need to know that exercise is a crucial component of any treatment for many different types of cancer. Staying active is not only safe but it is one of the best things that you can do for physical and mental health as part of recovery,” she says.  

The students have been working in collaboration with their honours advisor Dr. Amanda Casey of the StFX Department of Human Kinetics as well as Dr. Nicole Culos-Reed, a professor within the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, who has performed extensive research on the effects of exercise on pediatric oncology.

Dr. Casey says that many studies in the field have been carried out in hospitals and/or urban settings. “Dr. Culos-Reed’s research really promotes the importance of social inclusion with peers and integration into community-based settings. Research suggests that the traditional lab setting is not necessarily the solution when trying to encourage physical activity in cases of pediatric cancer. Children spend a lot of time in hospitals so you want to create a physical activity environment that is enjoyable and encourages adherence.”

Ms. Visser and Mr. Monaghan, she says, have designed this intervention in a way that promotes inclusion in everyday activities, long-term sustainability and also factors in the needs of entire families. The emphasis on community-based programming is especially important in rural locations where there are more personal and environmental barriers for physical activity as well as limited programming tailored for children who may have cancer. Both students commented on the transferable skills that they have acquired when undertaking applied research in the field of pediatric medicine and rehabilitation. They say it has inspired them to pursue this area further in the future. 

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