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New wellbeing coaching MSc to change behaviour around exercising


RGU is set to launch a new degree aimed at changing the public’s perspective of exercise and keeping fit - the MSc Exercise Health and Wellness Coaching, which will begin in September.

Laura Stewart

Laura Stewart, course leader, has been speaking about her thoughts on the new course and its impact.

-      The School of Health Sciences is launching a new MSc focusing on promoting exercise and physical activity. Just why is this kind of degree important? 

Physical inactivity is an ongoing concern globally, with it now being recognised as an independent risk factor for the development of conditions associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Whilst the importance of being physically active is becoming ever more apparent, the percentage of people who participate in adequate levels of activity is staying the same, with little change in participation levels since 2012.

The fitness industry continues to develop and grow – enhancing facilities, resources and equipment for those who are already active – however there is still much work needed to tackle those individuals who are not currently active. That is about more than providing affordable, trendy and exciting exercise opportunities, it involves working with those individuals to address the barriers to behaviour change.

-      How does the course differ from most sports science offerings? 

Traditionally sport science has been focused towards performance sports and working with those who are already engaged in sport and exercise. More recently this focus has broadened, with the importance of exercise for health growing in recognition.

The field of sport science now regularly incorporates teaching around exercise for health with many institutions offering undergraduate and postgraduate study in this field.

Where Robert Gordon University has looked to develop something unique is in encompassing the concept of wellness coaching – a developing area that looks to draw upon coaching philosophies developed in performance sport and applying them to populations with health and wellbeing needs to help address the challenges associated with behaviour change.

-      What skills will the professionals of the future gain from the course and what kinds of roles could they go on to work in? 

The MSc course has been designed to follow a similar structure to our successful undergraduate Applied Sport and Exercise Science course, with a strong applied theme throughout. This allows students to not only develop their knowledge and understanding of the theoretical principles but also to be able to apply that theory in practice, ensuring that they have the skills to be effective practitioners.

The key areas of focus within the course include the role of exercise in the prevention, management and treatment of health conditions, as well as how to effectively tackle behaviour change around exercise and physical activity. In addition students will be able to enhance their applied skills in real life situations through the inclusion of workplace learning.

We anticipate that our successful graduates will gain employment in a wide variety of roles within the private, public and third sector. The course was designed in consultation with key industry providers from all three sectors, and we are confident that we have developed a course capable of addressing the national health needs, as well as producing professionals with up-to-date knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge effectively.

-      How important is it that we have trained health and wellness coaches to encourage the people of the North-east, Scotland and the UK as a whole to increase their exercise? 

A combination of an ageing population and increased incidence of chronic health conditions, means that the NHS and the health and social care services are under constant strain to try and manage these situations. This challenge is one being faced across much of the UK, but here in the North-east of Scotland the challenges can be slightly different due to environmental and geographical factors playing a part.

In order to tackle these issues head on, it is important we start to work more on prevention rather than just management, and physical activity and exercise play a very important role in preventing many of the health issues being tackled.

In order to optimise the role of physical activity and exercise in the battle for health, we need a work force who are equipped with the knowledge and the skills to reach beyond those who want to exercise. A work force who can actually engage with those who would benefit the most, but who find being active an insurmountable challenge.

-      What levels of exercise would you recommend for the average man or woman across the country?

The current physical activity recommendations for adults, outlined by the Start Active, Stay Active guidelines, are that they participate in either 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, or a combination of both. This is in addition to participating in activities to build strength and improve balance twice a week, as well as reducing the amount of time spent sitting down.

Whilst these are the recommendations that adults should be working towards, it is important to remember that doing something is better than doing nothing and that you can start small and build up to these recommendations, as doing short bouts of just 10 minutes at a time can have benefits.

-      How can people find out more about RGU’s MSc Exercise, Health & Wellness Coaching?

Those who are interested in finding out more can visit the course webpage, or contact me directly at l.stewart20@rgu.ac.uk.

 

Release by Jonathon Milne
Communications Officer
Press and Media Enquiries