Skip to content

Kinesiology vs Exercise Science: How Are They Different?

If you enjoy an active lifestyle and want to dedicate your career to promoting health and wellness, you might be attracted to degree programs in exercise science or kinesiology. The good news is that there are plenty of attractive roles to graduates in both fields. Which one should you choose, though?

It’s easy to confuse the subjects. After all, kinesiology and exercise science share the same focus on physical activity. However, there are distinctions between the two fields that you should be aware of before deciding on a program.

Differences in Definitions

According to the American Kinesiology Association, kinesiology studies how physical activity impacts health, society, and quality of life. It’s a broad field that encompasses several other areas of study, including the following.

  • Exercise science
  • Sports management
  • Athletic training
  • Sports medicine
  • Socio-cultural analyses of sports
  • Sport and exercise physiology
  • Fitness leadership
  • Physical education
  • Pre-professional training for physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, and other health fields

Note how exercise science appears on the list of kinesiology subfields. Exercise science is a specialty within the study of kinesiology. While kinesiology studies physical activity’s relationship with health, society, and quality of life, exercise science zeroes in on exercise and movement. It takes a closer look at how someone’s body changes through exercise and the resulting performance and health implications.

Advance your career with Concordia University St. Paul

Advance your career in Exercise Science & Allied Health

Differences in Career Opportunities

Kinesiology Careers

Potential careers for kinesiology graduates typically include a wide range of roles across education, therapy, and sports. Examples include developing adapted physical education programs at schools or in the community, getting the post-graduate education needed to become a physical or occupational therapist, or becoming an athletic or personal trainer. There are dozens of potential career possibilities for someone with a degree in kinesiology.

Exercise Science Careers

Exercise science is a more defined subject, so graduates tend to follow suit. Typical careers after obtaining an exercise science degree include wellness coach, clinical exercise specialist, exercise physiologist, personal trainer, and athletic coach. Several additional opportunities are possible across fitness, health, wellness, and sports.

It’s important to note that a strong exercise science program can incorporate some of the same career opportunities that a kinesiology program offers. Not all courses should focus specifically, as strange as it may sound initially, on exercise. A quality exercise science curriculum should incorporate foundational courses like functional anatomy and biomechanics, which are crucial to both kinesiology and exercise science.

If you’d like to help people with their health and wellness, definitely don’t overlook kinesiology and exercise science, two of the most obvious degree program choices you have. Understand that your real focus should be on the quality of the program. For instance, by earning a strong exercise science degree online, you won’t have a problem pursuing a future in fields that are more commonly associated with kinesiology. Concordia University, St. Paul’s program is conveniently offered 100% online and can prepare you for positions in coaching, fitness and wellness centers, health and wellness education, personal training, and rehabilitation sciences.

Get Started