Getting in the Weeds with Chronic Disease

By the time EXSS students reach their senior year, they’ve learned a lot about a “normal” person and how to prescribe exercise for someone who is young and apparently healthy. They are excited about graduation and how they will use all that they know to go out and change the world…in our case…to make everyone aware and convinced of the benefits of exercise and enthusiastic about getting off the couch and moving for health. That is…until I have to break the news to them that only 10% of Americans are regularly physically active and most really have no intention of changing their sedentary lifestyle. To make matters worse, I have to tell them that most of the clients they will encounter come nowhere near to fitting the definition of “apparently healthy.”

EXSS 436 is all about Exercise Management for persons with Chronic Disease. In a nutshell, this hybrid course that meets F2F once/week for 75 minutes, will explore the myriad of chronic diseases that plague our nation, specifically heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and metabolic disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, and how exercise can be used to effectively manage these diseases and improve quality of life. The very interesting part about all of these diseases is that they share a common trait…inflammation. I will use this common link as a way to introduce and connect each chronic disease we will cover:


Students will leave this course with an understanding of the physiology of several chronic diseases, more confidence in their ability to program exercise for “real people” and with an appreciation for the complexity of chronic disease from a biopsychosocial perspective.

While I have incorporated active learning activities into this course in the past, I have not taught it as a hybrid before. I am looking forward to being the conductor but allowing my student orchestra to infuse the class with their enthusiasm, creativity, voice, personal experiences, and collaborative talents (lets face it, they don’t want to listen to me drone on and on for 3 hours a week). Students will be assigned to research one chronic disease as a small group of 3 or 4 and will present a current, relevant research study related to the use of exercise to manage/treat the disease. All students will read the article but the group will present the study in whatever creative means they wish, including online tools. They can present in person or post a video of their group presenting the article (bonus points for creativity), host a discussion or class blog, or anything else with my approval. I may also require them to work on this using a small group wiki or Google Docs or another collaborative online tool (still mulling that one over).

In addition to the group assignment, I will also post weekly online lectures with a short quiz, weekly blogs related to the topic/article they’re reading (requiring them to comment), and a variety of interactive/active small group activities during our face to face time. A F2F panel of individuals with chronic disease who have successfully discovered “exercise is medicine” will round out the term. The midterm exam will be take home and the final exam will be in class, with a reflective essay from which I an assess their appreciation for the social/emotional challenges faced by those with chronic disease.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Hybrid Course Delivery and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Getting in the Weeds with Chronic Disease

  1. Julie says:

    I think this is going to be an fascinating course, for both you and your students! I wonder if there are existing blogs that students could join that explore exercise and a specific chronic disease. It might be interesting to hear the perspectives of health professional and clients – from their various points of view. Interviewing individuals might also lead to insights as to motivational techniques that do and do not work at various stages in an individuals experience with their chronic disease.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *