Picture of Dr. Nancy Gyurcsik

Dr. Nancy Gyurcsik Professor

PAC 327

Research Area(s)

  • Healthy aging and management of chronic conditions

Research Description

  • Exercise psychology
  • Psychosocial determinants of physical activity 
  • Self-regulation 
  • Positive psychology
  • Knowledge translation

My research falls under the College of Kinesiology's research theme of "Healthy aging and management of chronic conditions. To optimize physical and mental well-being in aging adults."

Within this theme, I have expertise in exercise psychology. The overall aim of my research is to help people start and maintain physical activity as a non-pharmacological strategy to manage chronic disease. To achieve this aim, I conduct two programmatic lines of research.

First, I identify psychosocial determinants of physical activity using a complementary approach. This approach includes investigation of self-regulatory factors (e.g., barriers, self-regulatory efficacy beliefs), chronic disease-related factors (e.g., pain intensity, depression), and positive psychological factors (e.g., acceptance, resilience, psychological flexibility). This complementary perspective is unique, addressing real-world factors that can work together to impact participation in physical activity. 

Second, I translate knowledge gained on psychosocial determinants into evidence-based community programming. For example, I lead research on the development and testing of a chronic pain and physical activity training for exercise professionals (fitness instructors, personal trainers).

The long-term aim of my research program is to promote the widespread adoption and delivery of sustainable evidence-based approaches in order to help adults better manage their chronic disease.

My research program has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and Saskatchewan Community Initiatives Fund. I have an active research lab (Russ Kisby Physical Activity and Health Promotion Lab). Graduate and undergraduate students are regularly and succesfully engaged in various research experiences (e.g., study design and conduct, data collection and analyses, presentations, manuscript writing). We work together to identify exercise psychology driven research questions that aim to solve real-world problems revolving around physical activity participation for chronic disease management. I also work with internationally recognized researchers in academic and community-based settings.

Interested in Graduate Studies?

If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies with Dr. Gyurcsik, please go to Graduate Training Opportunities for more information.

Courses Taught

  • KIN 232.3 - Physical Activity in Society
  • KIN 830.3 - Psychosocial Aspects of Health and Exercise Behaviour

Academic Background

  • PhD (Exercise Psychology), University of Waterloo
  • MSc (Sport Psychology), University of Windsor
  • BSc (Movement Sciences), University of Windsor

News and Highlights


Jocelyn Blouin, a current PhD student, will be presenting our SHRF-funded research at the annual conference of the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She will be presenting findings that our newly developed in-person chronic pain and physical activity training for exercise professionals was effective. Key outcomes that increased from pre- to post-training included exercise professionals' chronic pain knowledge and confidence to educate and instruct their participants with chronic pain. Additional co-authors out of Dr. Gyurcsik's lab include Mackenzie Marchant, a current PhD student, and Dr. Miranda Cary, a recent PhD student.

Jocelyn will also be presenting our research on resilience and physical activity among adults with chronic pain at the annual conference of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) in San Francisco, California. This study examined whether adults with chronic pain who reported greater resilience differed from their lower resilience counterparts across a number of activity adherence-promoting psychosocial factors and physical activity. Additional co-authors out of Dr. Gyurcsik's lab include Kelly Corrine Hall, a current PhD student, and Dr. Miranda Cary, a recent PhD student. Jocelyn was awarded a Meritorious Student Abstract Award, which recognizes an excellent student first-authored submission. Congratulations Jocelyn! 


One of our most recent publications appeared in Physiotherapy Canada. This research was conducted by a former USask Kinesiology Honours student, Janelle Zapski, with support from current graduate students of Jocelyn Blouin and Mackenzie Marchant and recently graduated PhD student, Dr. Miranda Cary. We also worked on this research with our international colleague, Dr. Danielle Brittain, from the University of Northern Colorado. We examined psychosocial factors that related to physiotherapists' intention to counsel clients with chronic pain on exercise - a great team effort!

*Blouin, J.E., *Cary, M.A., *Marchant, M.G., Gyurcsik, N.C., Brittain, D.R., & **Zapski, J. (2019). Physiotherapists' intention to counsel clients with chronic pain on exercise: A focus on psychosocial factors. Physiotherapy Canada, 71(4), 319-326. doi: 10.3138/ptc-2018-38

Webinar on Exercise and Chronic Pain

If you are interested in viewing Dr. Gyurcsik's invited webinar by the Canadian Institute for the Relief of Pain and Disability on "Is exercising with chronic pain as easy as "Just do it?", follow this link: http://cirpd.org/Webinars/Pages/Webinar.aspx?wbID=89

Social Media

Our lab group is on Twitter:

Dr. Nancy Gyurcsik: @NancyGyurcsik

Jocelyn Blouin: @JBlouin16

Kelly Corrine (KC) Hall: @KcHallCHES


Example Publications

*Blouin, J.E., & Gyurcsik, N.C. (2019). Adults with conflicting or facilitation goals differ in adherence-related self-regulatory factors and exercise over time. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 49(7), 416-425. doi: 10.1111/jasp.12594

*Blouin, J.E., *Cary, M.A., *Marchant, M.G., Gyurcsik, N.C., Brittain, D.R., & **Zapski, J. (2019). Physiotherapists' intention to counsel clients with chronic pain on exercise: A focus on psychosocial factors. Physiotherapy Canada, 71(4), 319-326. doi: 10.3138/ptc-2018-38

*Sessford, J.D., Brawley, L.R., *Cary, M.A., #Flora, P.K., *Blouin, J.E., Strachan, S.M., & Gyurcsik, N.C. (2019). Facing multiple barriers to exercise: Does stronger efficacy help individuals with arthritis? Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 11(1), 59-79. doi: 10.1111/aphw.12144

Brittain, D.R., Gyurcsik, N.C., Tupper, S.M., & Downe, P.J. (2018). Moving forward with physical activity: Self-management of chronic pain among women. Women’s Health Issues28(2), 113-116. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2017.12.006

*Sessford, J.D., Brawley, L.R., *Cary, M.A., #Flora, P.K., *Blouin, J.E., *Meade, L., Strachan, S.M., & Gyurcsik, N.C. (2017). Self-regulatory efficacy encourages exercise persistence despite arthritis flare symptoms. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 9(3), 285-302. doi: 10.1111/aphw.12092 

*Cary, M.A., Brittain, D.R., & Gyurcsik, N.C. (2017). Differences in psychosocial responses to pain between sufficiently and insufficiently active adults with arthritis. Psychology and Health, 32(7), 765-780. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2017.1300258, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2017.1300258

* = Graduate student trainee. # = Postdoctoral fellow. **Undergraduate student trainee

Complete Publication List

Pub Med

Google Scholar

External Grant Funding

Dr. Gyurcsik's research program has been funded by various organizations, such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Social Sciencies and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), and Saskatchewan Community Initiatives Fund (CIF). 

Funding Examples

Gyurcsik, N.C., Tupper, S.M., Arnold, B.E., Brawley, L.R., Brittain, D.R., Downe, P.J., & Hellsten, L.M. Exploring the effectiveness of an in-person integrated counselling training module to increase exercise providers' knowledge and beliefs to instruct and educate Saskatchewan adults with chronic non-cancer pain. Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF), Collaborative Innovation Development Grant. Purpose: To develop, test, and refine an exercise provider integrated counselling training module on chronic pain and exercise. 

Gyurcsik, N.C.,Tupper, S.M., Brittain, D.R., & Brawley, L.R. Building a sustainable model to deliver chronic pain and exercise leadership training for Saskatchewan fitness professionals. Saskatchewan Community Initiatives Fund, Community Grants. Purpose: To design and deliver a sustainably offered online workshop training on physical activity and chronic pain to Saskatchewan fitness professionals. 

Gyurcsik, N.C., Brawley, L.R., Spink, K.S., & Strachan, S. Managing arthritis using physical activity: Identifying disease- and activity-specific psychosocial beliefs to improve adherence. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) – Regional Partnership Program with the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) Operating Grant. Purpose: To identify key activity- and disease-specific psychosocial beliefs affecting adherence to the recommended dose of physical activity for arthritis management among adults and to predict their persistence in challenging contexts. 

Current Graduate Students

Jocelyn Blouin, MSc: Jocelyn is a PhD student and former MSc student of Dr. Gyurcsik. She has been awarded a prestigious Tri-Council Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and a competitive University of Saskatchewan PhD Dean’s Scholarship for her graduate studies. Her emerging program of social psychological research is guided by theory and her passions to promote healthy lifestyles, physical activity adherence, and chronic health condition management. Overall, her research seeks to better understand psychosocial factors related to self-regulation of physical activity among adults. Her dissertation research is focused on psychosocial factors involved in adults’ decisions to engage in physical activity as a strategy to self-manage their chronic pain and live well.

Jocelyn has served as a Research Assistant during her graduate studies on several of Dr. Gyurcsik's externally funded research grants (e.g., Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation; Community Initiatives Fund). She also has an established record of refereed journal publications and regularly presents research at national and international scientific conferences.

Mackenzie Marchant, MSc: Mackenzie is a current PhD student of Dr. Gyurcsik. Mackenzie completed her Bachelor's degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus. After beginning work as a fitness instructor, Mackenzie's interests changed towards the psychological side of exercise and, therefore, pursued a Master's degree in Exercise Psychology with Dr. Gyurcsik. Mackenzie's research interests lie in the maintenance of exercise behaviour; how individuals are able to continue with exercise plans in the face of challenges and barriers. After her PhD, Mackenzie hopes to pursue a career in exercise counselling in order to help people understand what gets in the way of their exercise, and how they can improve their strategies in order to be consistent in their exercise behaviour. Mackenzie was awarded a competitive University of Saskatchewan PhD Dean’s Scholarship for her graduate studies. 

Kelly Corrine (KC) Hall, MPH: Kelly Corrine (KC) Hall is a PhD student and is a Certified Health Education Specialist with a passion for engaging with diverse communities towards health equity. She has over five years of experience developing and implementing trainings to diverse populations, including in the community and in the higher education setting. After obtaining her Master of Public Health degree from the Colorado School of Public Health, she joined the faculty at the University of Northern Colorado as a lecturer in the Department of Community Health Education. Through this position KC gained experience developing courses, delivering lectures, evaluating knowledge, and mentoring students. This position enhanced her passion for learning and sharing knowledge with others, while confirming her ambition for continuing a career in academia. Her current courses allow her to educate students on social determinants of health and how culture and behaviours are associated with health outcomes. 

KC is currently working towards her PhD in the College of Kinesiology under the supervision of Dr. Gyurcsik, examining the holistic effects of physical activity. She wants to continue her work in health equity through increasing her foundational knowledge of research, so that she can develop, implement, and assess community engaged strategies for addressing population specific barriers to physical activity. KC is most interested in researching psychosocial factors influencing physical activity and translating knowledge in order to implement a population approach to behaviour change. KC was awarded a competitive University of Saskatchewan PhD Dean’s Scholarship for her graduate studies. 

Graduate Training Opportunities

Interested in pursuing a PhD or MSc with Dr. Gyurcsik in the area of exercise psychology? 

Do you have a broad interest helping people begin and maintain physical activity in order to manage their chronic disease (e.g., arthritis, chronic pain)? 

Interested in identifying exercise psychology-based determinants of physical activity, with a focus on self-regulatory factors, positive psychological factors, and chronic disease-related factors? 

Are you interested in translating reserach findings into programs offered in the community to help large groups of people be more active?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, send me an email (nancy.gyurcsik@usask.ca). Introduce yourself, including your general reserach interests and academic background that has prepared you to study exercise psychology.

You can also check out articles that our research group, including graduate students, have published. If accepted into the program, we will work together to identify a reseach program that is meaningful to you and that will contribute to what is known about helping people become more physically active.