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Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology

Program Description

Just the Facts

Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology. A program that focuses on the scientific study of the physiological processes involved in physical or motor activity, including sensorimotor interactions, response mechanisms, and the effects of injury, disease, and disability. Includes instruction in muscular and skeletal anatomy; molecular and cellular basis of muscle contraction; fuel utilization; neurophysiology of motor mechanics; systemic physiological responses (respiration, blood flow, endocrine secretions, and others); fatigue and exhaustion; muscle and body training; physiology of specific exercises and activities; physiology of injury; and the effects of disabilities and disease.

This program is available in these options:

  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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Additional Information

Why do people sweat and dehydrate after exercise? How do your muscles become toned? How should you breathe during exercise to get the maximum amount of oxygen? Exercise physiology students deal with questions like these.

Exercise physiology (also known as exercise science) is typically a four-year bachelor's degree program. It's often offered as a specialization within a sport studies or kinesiology program. Master's or PhD programs are also available.

Programs deal with how the body reacts to certain movements, the balance between food and exercise and how the body processes certain foods. Classes cover biology, chemistry, anatomy and natural science.

Most programs require students to do an internship before graduation. This can be done in places like rehabilitation centers, YMCAs, clinics or hospitals or health and fitness centers.

Cathryn Doody is a professor of exercise science at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. "Students in exercise science will be able to prescribe cardiovascular and resistance exercise for the apparently healthy individual, as well as the chronically diseased such as arthritics, diabetics, the obese, [and people with] low back pain, [and] heart disease," she says.

You'll need strong academic, communication and writing skills. "Students need to be strong in natural sciences, especially physics, chemistry and math," says Alan Salmoni, coordinator of the kinesiology program at a university.

Extracurricular activities are also important in creating discipline and character.

LaGary Carter is a kinesiology professor at Valdosta State University in Georgia. He says being involved in athletics is almost as important as your academic work. "This provides students with an appreciation for physical exercise," he says.

Salmoni suggests getting involved with volunteer work at hospitals, rehab clinics and fitness clubs. Students can also gain valuable experience by working with the physically challenged, children and the elderly.

Aside from tuition and books, costs may include activity fees to access the exercise facility on campus. You may also want to join the American Society for Exercise Physiologists, which charges a membership fee.

Students must apply for a certification license to become a physical trainer or exercise physiologist. The American Society of Exercise Physiologists requires applicants to complete several specific classes before they can be licensed.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Physical Therapists

American Society of Exercise Physiologists
Get a list of accredited programs

A closer look at the human body

How Exercise Works
Learn how exercise affects every aspect of your health from the folks at HowStuffWorks


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