Hi! My name is Melissa Bowman and I’m a BCAK registered kinesiologist based in beautiful British Columbia. I graduated from Trinity Western University in Langley, with a degree in Human Kinetics and a specialization in Kinesiology. Like many others – I have struggled with anxiety and depression – and continually work hard to keep my mental health in balance. So…what does this have to do with you? What does mental health have to do with kinesiology – and are the two related? What do I mean when I say, “you should you consider thinking like a kinesiologist”?
Let’s get started by answering the questions that I get asked most frequently about kinesiology…
“Melissa, what the heck is ki-nee-see-ol-uh-jee?”
Kinesiology is the study of human movement. Kinesiologists are human movement and exercise specialists¹. That’s just a fancy way of saying we watch people move and help them do it better (you wouldn’t believe how good the body is at compensating for an incorrect movement pattern). Kinesiology applies to people of all ages; children, youth, young and older adults, even top-level athletes! It’s an amazing field with so many application paths. Kinesiologists are also health promotors – so yes – I’m that friend that will tell you to eat right and get enough sleep!
“Sooo…. what do you do exactly?”
My job encompasses several different aspects of health & wellness, however, the part that many people are most familiar with is how we help prevent and rehabilitate injury (the majority of injuries we see are car accident related). Often, those who are injured will seek the immediate help of a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, or chiropractor (or sometimes all three!). Once the physiotherapist believes exercise can be introduced into the rehabilitation program, they seek the help of a kinesiologist to deliver this portion of the program with the client. Sometimes, people hire a kinesiologist for personal training or for general exercise guidance. (PRO TIP: Not all kinesiologists are personal trainers, and vice versa. If you’re looking for a reputable personal trainer, make sure they have either attended university specializing in kinesiology (B.Kin or BHK) or they have the letters ACSM-CPT (certified personal trainer) or CSEP behind their name. Just because someone claims to be a “personal trainer”, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve gone to school or have the necessary education to back up their claim).
“What does kinesiology have to do with mental health?”
I’m so glad you asked! The short answer is – a LOT! The slightly longer answer is that exercise in general improves mental health by:
- Increasing energy levels
- Regulating hormone levels
- Regulating sleep patterns and helps to improves sleep overall
- Helping to decrease minor to moderate levels of depression & anxiety
- Improving self-esteem and confidence²
But…the point I want to make today is not about all the typical answers that you can quickly ‘Google’ and read all about in any random ‘blog’ (that was most likely not written by a health care professional) – it has more to do with the mind-set kinesiologists take when approaching situations, and how you can apply that to your own wellness. As mentioned earlier, kinesiologists are primarily focused on prevention and rehabilitation. So, taking that same approach in mental health is another strategy you can add to your health arsenal.
A kinesiologist (or ‘kin’) may have identified that an athlete suffers from a “weak ankle”. They may suggest the athlete wear an ankle brace to prevent further injury during a sporting event. If the athlete doesn’t then injure the ankle – amazing! However, if the athlete does end up getting injured – do not worry…take the brace off, apply ice, get some rehab, and try again.
The same theory applies to mental health. For example, say that you have an important job interview coming up…and you know that you might (or will) have severe anxiety related to this interview (you really hate to be put on the spot, and you always stumble when asked those ‘key questions’ that human resources people love to ask)…you can take all of the necessary precautions and make preparations: positive self-talk the day (and hour) before, deep breathing the day of, and you’re for sure wearing enough deodorant! If you manage to make it through the interview without panicking – amazing! However, if you did experience some panic (or a lot of panic) – not to worry – take a few deep breaths – recover – rehab the situation…find your centre…and try again.
Prevention is the first step. Every kin does their best to ‘prevent the injury from happening’ in the first place. The same goes for mental health and wellness. If you work hard at prevention, you are far less likely to have a problem later. Then – notice ‘rehab’ is quietly in attendance in both of these sentences. Don’t miss that. Far too often, athletes become injured from doing too much, too soon, and too fast³. I’ve personally found that managing my mental health often follows this same pattern. I either don’t do the hard work beforehand – to try and prevent the problem – or I don’t follow through afterwards. In this season of physical ‘slowness’ that COVID-19 has forced on some of us (maybe most of us) – take some time to think about this process and see if it works for you; it’s practical and tangible – you can do it!
Find the joy, be kind, and we’ll chat again soon.
If you’ve got questions – email me!
Find my email here: https://cordessa.ca/
- Shirl J. Hoffman. (2013). Introduction to kinesiology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
- Fahey, D. T., Insel, M. P., Roth, T. W., & Wong E. L,. (2016). Fit & well: Core concepts and labs in physical fitness and wellness. Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited
- Arnheim, D. D., Bonacci, J. A., Kauth, W. O., & Prentice, W. E. (2000). Principles of athletic training. McGraw-Hill.