An exercise psychologist studies how exercise positively affects certain groups of people which in turn helps people enjoy better physical and mental health through recommended exercise regimes. They try to get those with poor physical and mental health to consider exercise as a viable alternative to help bring about a general improvement in them.

They help patients get fitter for all-around good health or treat them with a medical condition through exercise. They have a wide range of knowledge about the human body and the benefit that exercise has on it, both mentally and physically.

Kitty Chao is an Exercise Psychologist at Macquarie University Sport and Aquatic Centre. She has a special interest in musculoskeletal injuries and strength and conditioning. She has a passion for helping others overcome the limitations and challenges of injury, chronic conditions and disabilities, to improve everyday functionality and enhance personal well-being.


  1. It is a delicate issue however when the words ‘child’ and ‘overweight’ are used in the same sentence. We all know that exercise and healthy eating are important for our kids. But unfortunately, with obesity at an all-time high, the facts and figures would suggest that Australia is struggling to fight this serious issue.

As an Exercise Physiologist, what are the most common issues or problems you are dealing with?

Most common issues I’m dealing with are diabetes and weight issues. We as Australian’s have such an evolved culture when it comes to nutrition as there are so many food choices to choose from to eat. With the technological age advancing as well we do more sitting than we should, and we do less than we should because technology can do it for us. Hence there is a huge rise in type 2 diabetes that I see due to lifestyle factors if we started becoming more active in the day this is one step to preventing a metabolic disease that we have the upper hand on changing.


  1. You previously wrote an article about “How can Exercise Help with Autism?”, which talks about how increased aerobic exercise can significantly decrease the frequency of negative, self-stimulating behaviours that are common among individuals with autism but does not decrease other positive behaviours.

Do you think that other behavioural disorders can also benefit from exercise or physical activity?

Most definitely other behavioural disorders can benefit from exercise or physical activity, people diagnosed with the oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can all benefit from exercise.

For example, those who have ADHD are on medication that works to increase dopamine to the brain as they have less dopamine than usual, exercise does just that exercise releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, which helps with attention and clear thinking.

Stimulants that are in the medication to treat ADHD increase dopamine to the brain, so it makes sense that exercise can have the same effect as the drugs, exercise can also help ease anxiety, increase levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor. That’s a protein involved in learning and memory. It’s in short supply in people with ADHD, and also improve compulsive disorders


  1. Speaking at a conference once, Apple chief Tim Cook said: “sitting is new cancer”. His wording was a little dramatic however with most people working long hours seated in front of a computer what advice do you have for those wanting to incorporate more exercise into our days?

To be honest, that is true “sitting is new cancer” people on average spend 8-9 hours a day in front of the desk, followed by a 30-1hr drive home, or train ride home, then dinner is also seated! We definitely spend the majority of our days sitting!

For those work long hours, hop up and stretch every hour neck stretches, lower back stretches can help with the stiffness caused by sitting. Also, incorporate incidental activity instead of sending that email across the room, why not get up and tell them? Instead of printing files to the closest printer why not print it to the furthermost printer in the office? Those are some ways you can add more to your day.


  1. What can the Kiddi-Community expect from you?

Expect more articles about exercise surrounding antenatal, postnatal period, exercise and children, pelvic floor rehab and post-partum.


  1. If I was a genie and could grant you three wishes, what would you wish for? (and why?
  • Private Jet to travel the world
  • Unlimited supply of new sneakers
  • A range of odd socks


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