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Program ResourcesExercise Science vs. Kinesiology: How are they Different?

Students who enjoy an active lifestyle, who are interested in a future career promoting health and wellness and who want to help others learn healthier habits may find themselves attracted to degree programs in exercise science or kinesiology. There is a wide array of attractive occupations available to degree holders in both programs. Potential students should know, though, that while exercise science and kinesiology are similar – both are associated with exercise and performance and are easily confused because they deal with physical activity – the two fields of study have major distinctions. Students should familiarize themselves with those differences so they’re better able to determine the best course, based on personal career objectives.

Mechanics of Movement vs. Human Response

One major variation is that kinesiology focuses on the mechanics of movement in particular, while exercise science is more based on a person’s response and adjustment to exercise. Kinesiology is the specific study of human movement, function and performance and their effects on a person’s overall health, and exercise science takes a closer look at what causes changes in the human body through exercise.

Post-Graduation Options

Students who earn degrees in kinesiology typically go on to work in fields such as orthopedics and rehabilitation as wellness consultants, sports instructors or physical or occupational therapists. Those with degrees in exercise science may work for gyms or high schools as personal trainers, coaches or physical education teachers.

Common day-to-day tasks for those in kinesiology include assessing injuries, creating and implementing rehabilitation programs, performing fitness assessments and applying programs to prevent further injury for their clients. On the other hand, those who studied exercise science may develop exercise programs for a variety of reasons for their clients (weight loss, recovery, strength training, etc.).