Exercise science is the study of movement and the associated functional responses and adaptations. That definition is from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. Exercise science majors study the science of human movement, learning how to help people live healthier lives through exercise, rehabilitation, and nutrition.
If you enjoy a healthy lifestyle complete with exercise, proper nutrition, and rest - and you'd like to help others do the same - an exercise science school may be the perfect place for you.
Exercise Science Degree Programs
The field of exercise science is broad, ranging from the study of how organ systems work when confronted with disease to ways to improve the biomechanical efficiency of an employee working on an assembly line.
Most exercise science degree programs have an introductory course that enables you to observe and volunteer at local exercise science facilities. These courses offer an excellent opportunity to ask questions and determine if a career in exercise science is right for you.
Exercise science degree programs help you build a strong foundation in the sciences, including anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, physics, and even mathematics. They also offer specialized courses such as exercise physiology, behavior modification, kinesiology, exercise prescription, and nutrition.
In exercise physiology courses, for instance, you'll study the basic movements and coordination of all the body's parts and systems, such as the muscles and bones. You'll learn about the way we breathe, move, and digest food, and you'll study the biology of exercise.
Many exercise science courses have a lab component that provides practical experience in the field. Exercise science degree programs typically culminate in an internship or undergraduate research experience.
Considerations for a Career in Exercise Science
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, is the largest programmatic accreditor in the health sciences field. Currently, 20 exercise science bachelor's degree programs in the U.S. have earned CAAHEP accreditation. Make sure your exercise science degree program is accredited and offers the proper coursework to help you achieve your career goals.
Once you complete your exercise science degree program, you may have the opportunity to sit for the ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist, Personal Trainer, or Clinical Exercise Specialist certification exams. If you earn your master's degree, you may pursue ACSM certification as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist. You may also choose to pursue National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist or NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer credentials. All of these certifications have been accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
Exercise science degree programs offer diverse specialties as well as preparation for graduate study. Opportunities for a career in exercise science include biomechanics, exercise physiology, athletic training, fitness management, pre-physical therapy, and medicine.
If you've got a passion for understanding and improving the health and performance of the whole individual, let exercise science schools get your career on the right track.