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Kinesiology vs Exercise Science: How Are They Different?

 |  3 Min Read

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 for graduates in both fields. Which one should you choose?

It can be challenging to identify the difference between kinesiology and exercise science. After all, both share a focus on physical activity. However, you should know the differences between the two fields before deciding on a program.

Differences in Definitions

It may be helpful to begin by examining the definition of kinesiology and how it differs from exercise science. According to the American Kinesiology Association, kinesiology studies how physical activity impacts health, society, and quality of life. Kinesiology is a broad field and encompasses several areas of study, including:

  • 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. By definition, exercise science is a specialty within the study of kinesiology–and therein lies the difference between the two. While kinesiology studies physical activity’s relationship with health, society, and quality of life, exercise science focuses on exercise and movement. It takes a closer look at how someone’s body changes through exercise and the resulting performance and health implications.

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 despite the difference between the two. 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.

Exercise Science Degrees from CSP Global

If you’d like to help people with their health and wellness, 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 an exercise science degree online, you won’t have a problem pursuing a future in fields more commonly associated with kinesiology. CSP Global’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.

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