What is Sports and Exercise Science?

You may have heard about majors in sport and exercise science, but perhaps you aren't exactly sure what sport and exercise science is? It obviously has to do with exercise and sports, but how is it a science? This field of study may also be referred to as movement science, fitness or kinesiology.

What are Sport and Exercise Science Specialty Areas?

Sport and exercise science studies the effects of physical activity on the human body. The study of immediate and long term effects of physical activity on the body can help us understand our body's abilities. The focus is also on the how and why the human body responds to physical activity in certain ways. This is a very diverse field of study and includes several areas of specialization. Two areas of specialty for students interested in this field include sports performance and health related components of physical activity. In the health related area, components of physical activity are researched to help us understand the benefits of physical fitness on our general health. The prominence of obesity and the lack of physical activity in children make this an area that requires further research. With concerns about the lack of physical activity, obesity and the risk of developing diseases due to this lack of physical activity, this area is growing tremendously.

The area of sports performance studies children, young adults and older adults and involves biomechanical analysis, psycho/social analysis as well as nutrition and physiological analysis. This area of study helps us understand how athletes can improve their athletic skills and endurance. The world of sports is incredibly large and the need for sport scientists is growing all the time. There are many areas within this specialty. Sport and exercise psychology (SEP) is a graduate level degree. This is a multidisciplinary field of study, where a student must learn a large base of knowledge in both exercise science/kinesiology and psychology. So, these scientists work with athletes and other individuals on both the physical aspects and the mental aspects. There is a certain amount of anxiety that an athlete might feel when competing and that is normal if not part of the success of an athlete. Many times though anxiety can lose an athlete a competition before they even start.

Many sport and exercise majors specialize in fitness. These students will have opportunities to work as fitness instructors, dance instructors, coaching, athletic training, health club management and physical education teachers. Understanding why the body responds to exercise in certain ways helps an instructor understand what they need to do for their clients. This could mean losing weight, improving their skills in a sport, or setting up exercise programs for clients that have physical handicaps.

Another graduate program within the sport and exercise area is physical therapy, also known as physiotherapy. Physical therapists help people recover mobility, flexibility and strength as well as limiting pain after suffering from a disease or injury. Physical therapy is considered to be one of the most satisfying jobs in the healthcare field. Students studying physical therapy in the sport and exercise area are concerned with maximizing the quality of life for individuals and need to have a deep understanding of the body and how it functions. They are concerned with prevention, promotion, treatment, intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation for their patients. Occupation therapy is very similar to physical therapy. These therapists help people who have disabling conditions, by working with them so they are able to perform everyday tasks in their home and work life.

So, as we stated before sport and exercise science is a very broad field, but it basically studies how physical activity affects our bodies. With that knowledge these scientists can help people in a variety of ways.