Exercise Science is a fascinating and dynamic field that delves into the science behind physical activity, human movement, and the impact of exercise on the human body. It is a multidisciplinary area of study that combines principles from physiology, biomechanics, psychology, and more, to understand how physical activity affects our health and performance. Whether you’re an athlete aiming to improve your game, a fitness enthusiast eager to maximize your workouts, or someone passionate about helping others lead healthier lives, Exercise Science offers a wealth of knowledge and career opportunities.

At its core, Exercise Science seeks to understand the intricate relationship between exercise and the human body. By exploring the physiological responses, biomechanical principles, and psychological aspects of exercise, professionals in this field work towards optimizing performance, preventing injuries, and promoting overall well-being.

What Are The Subfields of Exercise Science?


Biomechanics investigates the mechanical principles and forces that influence human movement. This subfield helps professionals understand how proper movement mechanics can enhance athletic performance and reduce the risk of injuries. For athletes, coaches, and anyone engaged in physical activities, biomechanics provides valuable insights into optimizing movements and technique.

Exercise Physiology

Exercise Physiology explores how the body responds and adapts to physical activity. By studying cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic responses during exercise, exercise physiologists design tailored exercise programs to meet specific fitness goals. Understanding exercise physiology is essential for designing effective workout routines and training regimens.

Exercise Psychology delves into the psychological aspects of physical activity, including motivation, behavior, and adherence to exercise programs. Exercise psychologists help individuals overcome mental barriers and establish sustainable exercise habits. They also work with athletes to enhance mental toughness and optimize performance in competitive settings.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac Rehabilitation is a crucial subfield that focuses on designing exercise programs for individuals recovering from heart-related conditions. These programs aim to enhance cardiovascular health, improve physical capacity, and boost overall well-being, promoting a faster and safer return to normal life and activities.

Athletic Training

Athletic Training specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, particularly in athletes and active individuals. Athletic trainers play a vital role in maintaining athletes’ health, optimizing their performance, and ensuring a swift and safe recovery from injuries.

Fitness for Special Population Groups

Fitness for Special Population Groups involves tailoring exercise programs for individuals with specific health conditions or special needs. Exercise professionals work with elderly individuals, pregnant women, and people with disabilities to develop safe and effective fitness routines, promoting better health and quality of life.

What Fields Overlap with Exercise Science?

Exercise Science intersects with various related fields, and the knowledge gained from these overlapping areas enhances the understanding and applications of exercise principles. Some of these fields include:

Sports Medicine

While Exercise Science focuses on injury prevention and performance enhancement, Sports Medicine primarily deals with diagnosing and treating sports-related injuries. Professionals in both fields collaborate to support athletes’ overall well-being.

Physical Education

Physical Education primarily concentrates on teaching physical activities and promoting an active lifestyle among students. Exercise Science provides the scientific foundation behind effective physical education programs.


Nutrition and Exercise Science are interrelated since proper nutrition plays a vital role in optimizing exercise performance and recovery. Understanding how diet affects the body’s response to exercise is essential for fitness professionals and athletes alike.

Public Health

Exercise Science contributes to public health initiatives by promoting physical activity as a means to prevent chronic diseases, improve population health, and reduce healthcare costs.

Physical Therapy

While Exercise Science focuses on the principles of exercise and movement, Physical Therapy applies these principles to rehabilitate individuals recovering from injuries or surgeries. The collaboration between Exercise Science and Physical Therapy enhances patient care and rehabilitation outcomes.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy and Exercise Science share a common goal of improving individuals’ functional abilities. Exercise Science provides valuable knowledge to develop exercise-based interventions that support occupational therapy goals.

Rehabilitation Sciences

Similar to Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Sciences explore the principles of rehabilitation and apply them to enhance patient recovery. Exercise Science contributes to evidence-based rehabilitation practices.

How Does Exercise Science Differ from Similar Fields?

While Exercise Science shares common goals with related fields, its focus and approach differ significantly:

Physical Education vs. Exercise Science

Physical Education centers on instructing various physical activities, including sports and games, to promote fitness and skill development among students. Exercise Science, on the other hand, delves into the scientific principles underlying human movement and exercise, applying evidence-based strategies to optimize health and performance.

Sports Medicine vs. Exercise Science

Sports Medicine focuses on diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating sports-related injuries, while Exercise Science concentrates on injury prevention, exercise prescription, and enhancing physical performance.

Public Health vs. Exercise Science

Public Health initiatives address population-level health concerns and promote health and well-being through various means, including advocating for physical activity. Exercise Science contributes to public health by providing evidence and guidelines for effective exercise interventions.

Physical Therapy vs. Exercise Science

Physical Therapy involves assessing and treating individuals with physical impairments or disabilities. Exercise Science supports physical therapy by providing knowledge about exercise prescription and its role in rehabilitation.

Occupational Therapy vs. Exercise Science

Occupational Therapy helps individuals regain functional skills for daily living and work. Exercise Science complements occupational therapy by incorporating exercise-based interventions to support functional goals.

What Classes Will You Take in an Exercise Science Program?

An Exercise Science program typically offers a variety of courses to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the field. These classes may include:

Anatomy and Physiology

Students learn about the structure and function of the human body, understanding how different systems respond to exercise.

Exercise Physiology

This course explores the physiological responses and adaptations that occur during exercise, including cardiovascular and respiratory changes, energy metabolism, and muscle function.


Students study the principles of mechanics to analyze human movement, assessing how forces, levers, and angles affect performance and injury risk.

Motor Learning and Control

This class delves into the cognitive processes involved in acquiring and refining motor skills, essential for athletes and anyone learning new physical activities.

Nutrition and Exercise

Understanding the role of nutrition in exercise performance, recovery, and overall health is critical for exercise professionals.

Exercise Psychology

Students explore the psychological factors that influence exercise behavior, motivation, and adherence to fitness programs.

Exercise Prescription and Testing

This course covers the principles of designing safe and effective exercise programs for individuals with diverse needs and fitness goals.

Fitness Assessment

Students learn various methods of assessing physical fitness and how to interpret the results to create personalized exercise plans.

Kinesiology and Functional Anatomy

This class delves deeper into the study of human movement and its relationship with anatomical structures.

Research Methods in Exercise Science

Students learn about research design, data collection, and analysis techniques used to contribute to the evolving field of Exercise Science.

What are the benefits of a degree in Exercise Science?

Pursuing a degree in Exercise Science offers numerous benefits, making it an appealing choice for those passionate about health, fitness, and helping others:


A degree in Exercise Science opens doors to various career paths in sports, healthcare, fitness, and wellness industries. Graduates can choose from diverse job opportunities, allowing them to explore different areas of interest.

Helping Others

Exercise Science professionals make a positive impact on people’s lives by promoting health and physical well-being. Working with clients to achieve their fitness goals or helping individuals recover from injuries can be highly rewarding.

Personal Growth

As students dive into the science of human movement and exercise, they gain a deeper understanding of their own bodies and health. This knowledge empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their well-being.

Evolving Field

Exercise Science is continuously advancing with ongoing research and discoveries. Graduates can stay updated with the latest advancements and evidence-based practices, enhancing their professional expertise.

What Careers Can You Pursue With an Exercise Science Degree?

A degree in Exercise Science prepares graduates for various exciting and fulfilling career paths:

Fitness Consultant

As a fitness consultant, you’ll work with individuals or organizations to develop tailored exercise plans and provide guidance on achieving specific fitness goals. This role requires strong communication and coaching skills to motivate clients.


Coaches play a vital role in training and motivating athletes in various sports. Whether it’s a high school team or professional athletes, coaches help individuals improve their skills and reach their full potential.

Exercise or Sports Physiologist

Exercise or sports physiologists conduct fitness assessments and design customized exercise programs based on an individual’s goals and needs. They may work with athletes, individuals with chronic conditions, or those seeking to optimize their fitness levels.

Physical Therapy Assistant or Rehabilitation Tech

Working alongside physical therapists, these professionals assist in implementing exercise-based rehabilitation programs for individuals recovering from injuries or surgeries.

Spa Manager

Spa managers oversee spa operations, including fitness and wellness programs in health resorts or spa facilities. They ensure the delivery of high-quality services to clients, enhancing their overall spa experience.

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers prevent, assess, and treat sports-related injuries in athletes and physically active individuals. They also provide rehabilitation support during the recovery process.

What Careers Are Available with a Master’s or Doctoral Degree?

For those seeking to advance their careers further, pursuing a Master’s or Doctoral degree in Exercise Science opens up specialized roles, such as:

Physician Assistant

Physician assistants work under the supervision of physicians, diagnosing and treating patients in various medical settings. Advanced knowledge in Exercise Science can support patient care and treatment plans.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists are highly trained professionals who help patients recover from injuries and improve their physical functioning through targeted rehabilitation programs. Advanced knowledge in Exercise Science enhances their ability to develop tailored exercise protocols.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists assist individuals in developing or regaining the skills needed for daily living and work activities. Combining Exercise Science with occupational therapy principles enables them to incorporate exercise-based interventions into therapy programs.


Chiropractors focus on diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, often through manual adjustments and therapies. A strong background in Exercise Science complements chiropractic care by incorporating exercise as part of the treatment plan.

What Are Some of the Certifications You Can Pursue?

To enhance your qualifications and expertise in specific areas of Exercise Science, you can pursue certifications from reputable organizations:

American Council on Exercise (ACE)

ACE offers certifications for personal trainers, group fitness instructors, and health coaches, among others, providing valuable credentials for fitness professionals.

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

ACSM offers certifications in areas like personal training, exercise physiology, and clinical exercise physiology, recognized for their scientific rigor and quality.

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

NASM provides certifications for personal trainers, corrective exercise specialists, and performance enhancement specialists, among others, focusing on evidence-based training techniques.

Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA)

For those interested in aquatic fitness, AEA offers certifications for water fitness instructors and aquatic fitness professionals.

National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

NSCA provides certifications for strength and conditioning specialists, recognized as top credentials in the field of strength and conditioning.

Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA)

AFAA offers certifications for group fitness instructors, personal trainers, and other fitness professionals, emphasizing practical and applicable knowledge.

Earning a Degree in Exercise Science at Concordia University Chicago

At Concordia University Chicago, we are committed to providing a comprehensive and well-rounded Exercise Science program that equips students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this rewarding field. Our faculty members are experts in their respective subfields, offering personalized attention and hands-on learning opportunities to ensure students’ success.

Summing Up Exercise Science

Exercise Science offers an exciting and fulfilling journey into the science behind human movement, exercise, and health. Whether you’re passionate about sports performance, rehabilitation, fitness coaching, or improving public health, Exercise Science opens up a world of possibilities. With a deep understanding of physiology, biomechanics, and psychology, Exercise Science professionals can positively impact individuals and communities, empowering them to live healthier and more active lives. Consider pursuing a degree in Exercise Science, and embark on a rewarding and impactful career that makes a difference in people’s lives and promotes a healthier society.