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a person jogs on an elliptical

Kinesiologists’ expertise critical to a safe return to exercise

Newsroom authorby Jon KuiperijJun 15, 2022

Eager to get moving again after leading a sedentary lifestyle through much of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Sheridan kinesiology professor Dr. Tanya Holloway agrees that regular exercise is a great way to improve your health — as long as you aren’t doing too much, too soon after a COVID infection.

“Many of us are in a rut, physically and mentally, and both of those aspects of our health benefit from regular physical activity,” says Holloway, coordinator of Sheridan’s new Clinical Kinesiology graduate certificate program and its Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences — Kinesiology and Health Promotion degree. “But that regular physical activity has to be done in the proper way.”

Though studies have shown that adults who routinely participate in 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week have been less vulnerable to hospitalization, ICU admission and death during the pandemic, Holloway notes there are also early signs that returning to vigorous exercise too soon after infection can trigger symptoms of COVID-19 weeks or months after initial recovery from the virus (known as post-COVID conditions or long COVID).

“Being tired during exercise may not simply be because you are out of shape after having had COVID.”


– Dr. Tanya Holloway

“It’s hard to pinpoint the cause of fatigue during exercise after COVID, since most individuals have been extremely inactive due to pandemic restrictions and recovery from the virus, both of which lead to a reduced exercise tolerance,” Holloway says. “But we’re seeing other things as well, such a difference in how heart rates rise and recover during and after exercise, or a decrease in oxygen saturation after COVID infection. So being tired during exercise may not simply be because you are out of shape after having had COVID.”

Need for kinesiologists to prescribe proper exercise


So how do we get more active again without making ourselves more vulnerable to long COVID and other negative side effects? That depends on the individual, Holloway says, which is why seeking out the expertise of a kinesiologist may have never been more important.

“Kinesiologists have a deep understanding of the physiological effects of exercise as a whole, including how to best prescribe the dose, intensity and duration of exercise so we can enjoy the beneficial effects without triggering chronic issues,” says Holloway. “Now, more than ever, people need guidance from experts who can assess their current fitness level, compare it to what it was pre-COVID, and determine the best way forward.”

Sheridan’s kinesiology programs are already responding to that need. Both the Clinical Kinesiology graduate certificate and Bachelor of Health Sciences — Kinesiology and Health Promotion degree teach students how to mitigate health issues stemming from COVID-19 and long COVID, while the graduate certificate addresses a shortage of experiential learning opportunities during the pandemic by providing more than 700 hours of problem-based learning and supervised placements.

“The pandemic has exhausted our acute care practitioners who have dealt with COVID-19 on the front lines since the beginning,” Holloway says. “Now, it’s time for allied health professionals, like kinesiologists, to step in to reduce the load on general practitioners by sharing their expertise to help people recovering from COVID.”
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