Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis

Principal Investigator

B.Sc. [Psychology] (University of Toronto)
Ph.D. [Kinesiology] (University of Waterloo)
Professor, School of Health and Exercise Sciences, University of British Columbia Okanagan
Director, SCI Action Canada
Principal Investigator, Canadian Disability Participation Project
Fellow, National Academy of Kinesiology
Recipient, Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship

Research Interests

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Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis’s research program focuses on understanding and changing physical activity behaviour. She has a particular interest in physical activity among people with spinal cord injury and other types of physical disabilities. Dr. Martin Ginis often collaborates with multi-disciplinary teams to study various health-related outcomes associated with physical activity participation (e.g., weight loss, cardiovascular disease risk, pain).

Dr. Martin Ginis is the Director of SCI Action Canada, a Professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC Okanagan, and an ICORD Principal Investigator. She is also a Fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology and a recipient of the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship.

Dr. Martin Ginis has a profound commitment to knowledge translation, specifically the development and implementation of evidence-based best practices to improve health and well-being among people with disabilities. Examples of best practices developed by her team, include the formulation of the first evidence-based physical activity guidelines for people with spinal cord injury; implementation of a nationwide service to provide telephone-based physical activity counselling to adults with physical disabilities; and creation of an online physical activity resource centre to serve the international spinal cord injury communities.

Recent collaborations

Dr. Martin Ginis collaborates with numerous ICORD researchers, including Dr. Andrei Krassioukov on the CHOICES Project to improve the cardiovascular health of people with SCI, and with Dr. Christopher West on an RHI-funded project to improve measurement of physical activity in people with SCI and to develop tools to assist physiotherapists in prescribing exercise to those clients. She is also the Principal Investigator for the Canadian Disability Participation Project (CDPP) with ICORD co-investigators, Drs. Gary Birch, Jaimie Borisoff, Janice Eng, Susan Forwell, William Miller, and Ben Mortenson. This is an alliance of private, public, and governmental institutions and community-based organizations to advance research and knowledge translation projects to promote physical activity and other types of social participation among Canadians with disabilities.

Major Findings

  • 50% of people with SCI do not participate in any leisure time physical activity whatsoever.
  • For adults with SCI, physical activity must be performed at a moderate intensity or higher in order to achieve significant health or fitness benefits.
  • Two 20-minute bouts of aerobic exercise per week, and strength-training twice per week, results in significant fitness improvements among adults with SCI.
  • Telephone-based physical activity counselling that includes action planning, can nearly double the amount of physical activity performed by people with SCI.
  • Peer-delivered physical activity interventions are just as effective as professional-delivered physical activity interventions.
  • Among people with physical disabilities, the subjective experience of participation includes perceptions of autonomy, belongingness, challenge, engagement, mastery, and meaning.
  • Google Scholar most cited works.

Techniques Employed in the Lab

  • Integrated Knowledge Translation
  • Community-engaged research methods
  • Physical activity measurement
  • Psychosocial assessments
  • Fitness assessments
  • Telephone-based and online survey methods
  • Behaviour change counselling
  • Systematic reviews, meta-analysis
  • Advanced multivariate modelling

Affiliations with Organizations

  • Director, SCI Action Canada
  • Member, International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS)
  • Member, Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology (SCAPPS)
  • Member, North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA)
  • International Fellow, National Academy of Kinesiology


  • SSHRC Impact Awards: Connection Award National Finalist (Top 3) (SSHRC, 2020)
  • John Gibbons Counsell Award for contributions to advancing the cause of people with SCI (Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, 2015)
  • Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship for exceptional long-term efforts and contributions to the well-being of the community (2015)
  • Research Award, First Prize (Student Category [Supervisor]); Fourth Prize, Research Category; (National Spinal Cord Injury Conference, 2014)
  • Poster Award (Research) (National Spinal Cord Injury Conference, 2012)
  • Multiple Health Behavior Change Special Interest Group Research Award (Society of Behavioral Medicine, 2012)
  • International Fellow (National Academy of Kinesiology, 2011)
  • The President’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision (McMaster University, 2010)

Current Lab Members

Ph.D. Students Postdoctoral Fellows Research Staff
Sarah Lawrason Dr. Femke Hoekstra Spero Ginis
Robert Shaw Dr. Joan Ubeda-Colomer Adrienne Sinden
Kendra Todd Dr. Cameron Gee
Gabriel Dix Dr. Camille Geurtin

* graduated in the past year

Recent publications

  • Vergeld, V, Martin Ginis, KA, Jenks, AD. 2021. Psychological interventions for reducing fear avoidance beliefs among people with chronic back pain.. Rehabil Psychol. doi: 10.1037/rep0000394.
  • Shaw, RB et al.. 2021. Investigating the influence of interaction modality on the communication patterns of spinal cord injury peer mentors.. Patient Educ Couns. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2021.09.008.
  • Ma, JK et al.. 2021. Implementation of the spinal cord injury exercise guidelines in the hospital and community settings: Protocol for a type II hybrid trial.. Spinal Cord. doi: 10.1038/s41393-021-00685-7.
  • Martin Ginis, KA et al.. 2021. Participation of people living with disabilities in physical activity: a global perspective.. Lancet. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01164-8.
  • Mikami, Y et al.. 2021. Cultural validation and language translation of the scientific SCI exercise guidelines for use in Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.. J Spinal Cord Med. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2021.1945857.
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