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Class overview

Physical activity prescription is one of the most important services we can provide to our patients who are sedentary or who have a chronic condition, but many of us have not been given adequate training on how to do it. This Masterclass aims to bridge that gap.

The class teaches the basics of physical activity prescription using a variety of approaches. It explores the different types of activities, exercise intensities, safety precautions, disease-based modifications, and barriers and facilitators for patients and providers.

After reviewing the basics, a case study on a patient with a chronic condition is presented to demonstrate how we prescribe physical activity in ‘real life’.


4 modules


2 hours

About the presenter

Dr. Thornton is a Clinician Scientist specializing in long-term athlete health, female athlete health, and physical activity in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine, with cross appointments in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Department of Kinesiology at Western University in London, Canada. She is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine (CASEM) and Editor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM).

Dr. Thornton represented Canada for over a decade in the sport of elite rowing, becoming both a World Champion (2006) and Olympian (2008), and has been recognized nationally for her contribution to society by sport/volunteer initiatives.

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Class modules


The benefits of physical activity for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease

Runtime: 27:26
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This opening module outlines the global burden of physical inactivity and the enormous benefits that physical activity confers on health. We review the global physical activity guidelines and explore the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and mental health benefits, along with the benefits for our older adults and patients with cancer. We wrap the session up with information on the effectiveness of physical activity as compared to medications for some common diseases.

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Prescribing and supporting physical activity and exercise

Runtime: 36:12
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This module describes the specifics on physical activity prescription, what to ask prior to commencing a physical activity program and what questions to ask in your subjective examination, how to assess your patient’s motivation to change and the relative and absolute contraindications to physical activity. Examples of frameworks and written prescriptions are provided and the importance of follow up is emphasised.

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Prescribing physical activity in patients with hypertension

Runtime: 31:05
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This module presents a case of a 68-year-old woman with newly diagnosed hypertension. We review the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity and apply our learnings from Module 2 to a specific case. We review specific considerations, modifications and contraindications to physical activity in patients with hypertension.

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Leading Change in Physical Activity for Health

Runtime: 25:07
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What does physical activity prescription have to do with leadership? In this module, we explore the unique opportunities we have as healthcare providers to be leaders and agents of change and to advance the importance of physical activity for health in our individual communities and beyond. We explore emerging hot topics and the roles we can play in answering the call to action to the World Health Organisation’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity.

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