PhD candidate - exercise medicine, Edith Cowan University

Mary Kennedy is a physical activity specialist, researcher, writer and coach with an MSc in Nutrition from Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She believes in the power of physical activity and nutrition and their ability to transform individuals--physically and emotionally.

A major focus of Mary's career has been on training individuals to complete marathons and researching the impact of that endeavor. She strongly believes the benefits of the 26.2 mile challenge extend far beyond the finish line; the marathon offers transcendent lifelong gifts unlike any other individual experience. Throughout her career, Mary has coached over 1,000 people, primarily first-timers, to run marathons. That passion led her to the non-profit world, where she served for five years as a director of DREAMFAR High School Marathon, a mentor supported marathon training program that challenges high school students to reach their full potential. DREAMFAR has trained over 500 high school students since 2008 to complete the Providence Marathon.

Mary has also been instrumental in national policy surrounding physical activity. Specifically, she served as a technical assistant for the scientific committee responsible for the creation the 2008 National Physical Activity Guidelines. Additionally, she has served on the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Exercise is MedicineⓇ Education Committee and is currently the Physical Activity Advisor for the American Institute of Cancer Research.

In addition to her national level policy work, Mary is a physical activity and nutrition researcher and consultant. She was the research coordinator and residency preceptor at the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine (ILM) at Harvard Medical School. In this role, she managed several projects examining the implications of physical activity throughout the lifespan, including an evaluation of Building Our Kids Success (BOKS), a before school physical activity program sponsored by the Reebok Foundation. While at the ILM, she has been an influential leader in the movement to include lifestyle medicine - physical activity, nutrition, and self care - into medical school curriculum in the United States. She helped to create the Lifestyle Medicine Residency training program in collaboration with Yale University and Griffin Hospital. Prior to her work at the ILM, Mary conducted her research at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, where she examined the physiology behind marathon training, specifically weight management with training. She's put her nutrition science skills into practice serving as a nutrition consultant for Stonyfield Farm, Inc., to advise industry on best practices.

Mary truly believes physical activity and nutrition knowledge should be accessible to everyone. One of her professional goals is to interpret the complex science of physical activity and nutrition into accurate and easily understood pieces for popular press and news media outlets. She has written for O Magazine and Redbook and has been featured for her work in the New York Magazine, Runner’s World, Runner’s World Book, and the Boston Globe. Additionally, she has developed curriculum for University level classes related to physical activity and nutrition and was an associate producer for the NOVA Marathon Challenge documentary, featuring elite marathoner Uta Pippig, prominent CEO Jonathan Bush, and former NFL player Steve DeOssie.

The breadth of Mary’s work experience has provided a first-hand view of the huge gap between what we know and what we do when it comes to exercise and nutrition. A desire to help bridge that gap has led to her current role as a PhD candidate at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia. She is working with the Exercise Medicine Research Institute to embed exercise into standard care for cancer patients through a co-located, in-house exercise clinic at GenesisCare.


  • –present
    PhD candidate - physical activity and nutrition, Edith Cowan University