What can you do with a degree in Exercise and Movement Science?

Last month, I reached out to a fellow professional on Twitter who was bashing the field of exercise science for having “no career paths outside of Strength Training/Personal Training”. That’s outdated language.

After a few back and forths on the social media platform, I was able to provide information to the individual to show the how vast and flexible this industry is. They were unaware about the different pathways and possibilities within this field and since that conversation, I’ve gained a trusted follower who actively engages with my content on the social media platform.

Human Performance is not a single science or art. Humans are not built that way. It’s an industry built on interdisciplinary minds (shoutout to Leonardo Da Vinci- specifically the “Vitruvian Man”) that includes the science and humanities involved with human movement. Not only do we study and work directly with humans, but exercise scientists need to understand the science and design of the implements we interact with, too. The psychosocial impacts of environments on movement as well as the methodologies in pedagogy are included in this field of study.

The field of exercise science is one that is constantly evolving. It has evolved a bit in name where the term Kinesiology is and has been historically used to describe our science- (not trying to start a terminology debate with this). It stemmed from very specific professions like aerobic instructors and physical educators to evolve into more professions, certifications, and settings. The addition of the concept of “movement” opens the academic study of human performance into more fields like industrial ergonomics, rehabilitation, robotics, GPS technology, and logistics. One interdisciplinary example from the industry is the use of motion capture (MOCAP). MOCAP includes the use of biomechanics, technology, motor behavior, anatomy, and pedagogy to create a tool for tracking and monitoring human performance. Here is the Qualisys AB system being used to track performance in dancing and music.

The Exercise and Movement Science field uses that interdisciplinary approach to enhance, monitor, evaluate, and increase human performance. Aside from the interdisciplinary mindset, the field focuses on five biological foundations. When you break down our science, learners in our Exercise and Movement Science Program will study these five biophysical foundations:

These foundations all work together to produce movement. Students in the Introduction to Exercise and Movement Science course study these both as independent and dependent factors to movement. From there, students focus more on each foundation throughout our curriculum: biomechanics, motor behavior, exercise physiology, etc. Lastly, students in our 400-level courses are expected to apply this interdisciplinary knowledge within specific settings based on the industry they have interest or success in. Our field has three primary industries:

Students in our program gain experience by working with professionals in these industries. Our newly updated Clinical and Field Experience course will provide students the means to investigate each of these industries and the settings for each in hopes of forming a calling to a profession. Each industry has specific job titles or professions, usually linked to a certification by an accrediting organization, and our program allows students to either focus solely on one industry or can be used as a generalist with knowledge across all domains and industries. Here are the professions students will investigate at the introductory level in hopes of exploring that calling. 

Lastly, some of our students will look to complete graduate program pre-requisites while enrolled in our Exercise and Movement Science undergraduate degree program. In terms of graduate studies, exercise science majors can use their degree to prepare for the following graduate studies and industries:

As I started this blog post by saying, this field is vast. That can be both good and bad. Sometimes too many options can cause confusion and cloud the vision. Regardless, in-field success can be obtained by being either a specialist or a generalist- there is room and need for both in the industry.

If you do have questions about the different careers and industries associated with the Exercise and Movement science field of study, please feel free to reach out to me: binkleza@lewisu.edu.

You can access the full PDF version of the Exercise and Movement Science Career Map here: ems-career-map-_31261507 

About Dr. Zachary Binkley

Zachary W. Binkley, PhD is the former Assistant Professor and Program Director of Exercise and Movement Science Program. He is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Special Interest Group on Basketball.

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