What is Kinesiology?

Kinesiology is an exciting and varied field that revolves around multiple aspects of human movement. According to the American Kinesiology Association, it can involve areas of study such as exercise science, occupational therapy, physical education, fitness leadership, sports management or athletic training. Those in the field generally take on professional roles that improve the health and quality of life for their patients. 

What Can You Do With a Kinesiology Degree?

Earning a degree in kinesiology opens up a world of career possibilities. Whether you want to immediately begin your career or use your degree to advance to higher levels of study, you have the opportunity to find meaningful employment in a range of fields. Future careers might include:

  • Fitness and wellness coordinator
  • Athletic trainer
  • Aquatics director
  • Personal trainer
  • Recreation director
  • Physical therapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Physician assistant
  • Sports manager
  • Recreational therapist
  • Fitness instructor
  • Biomechanist
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Adapted physical activity specialist
  • Massage therapist

These titles represent a few careers available within the many areas of kinesiology practice. 

Interested in a Career in Exercise Science & Kinesiology?

Kinesiology is a wide-ranging field that can lead to exciting professions in athletics, healthcare, recreation and more. Learn more about ECU’s online Kinesiology program and take the first step today!

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Areas of Kinesiology Practice


Biomechanics is the study of how mechanical principles are applied to human movement. It answers questions such as “why do bodies move the way they do?” and “how can we apply biomechanical solutions to improve patient health?” The discipline looks at items like the mechanics of muscle function, connective tissues, skin, bones and joints. Professionals who work in this field often do so in laboratories. They may study such varied concepts as injury reduction, locomotion patterns, mobility impairment, microgravity or occupational health. 

Sports Medicine

Sports medicine is a field that specializes in helping individuals who have movement-related injuries. Professionals in this area help athletes who have been injured, children and teens involved in sports, adults who exercise and even people whose jobs demand a high level of physical activity, such as construction workers. Sports medicine is not an official medical specialty. Rather, people who work in this field are certified in areas such as emergency medicine, internal medicine or family medicine and then receive additional training. 

Exercise Science

Exercise science is the study of how the body responds to physical activity and how it changes as a result of exercise. This area of practice seeks to understand the human body, physical conditioning, injury prevention, diet and nutrition and how these elements interact. Within the field are elements of chemistry, fitness programming and biology. 

Someone interested in exercise science might ask: “what’s the difference between exercise science and kinesiology?” Simply put, exercise science is a kinesiology specialty. While exercise science only focuses on fitness, kinesiology looks at the broader scope of human movement. 

Sports Management

Sports management is a field concerned with the business aspects of sports and recreation activities. It is behind-the-scenes work, focused on managerial tasks such as budgeting organizing, facility management, finance, marketing and event management. Jobs in sports management can be found anywhere that sports are organized. This might include positions with municipal leagues, professional sports teams, sports marketing firms, colleges and universities, recreational departments, government athletic programs and more. 

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a field of practice that seeks to help individuals optimize the use of their bodies. They may help patients increase mobility, reduce or manage pain, restore body functions and manage certain health conditions that make bodily movement difficult. Physical therapists require a license and may be employed by outpatient clinics, schools, hospices, fitness centers, skilled nursing centers and other related spaces. 

Occupational Therapy

Similar to physical therapy, occupational therapy helps individuals improve their quality of life through the enhancement of bodily movement. However, occupational therapists are specifically responsible for helping to treat and prevent physical health issues that arise from daily activities. These issues might be injuries, illnesses or arise from a disability. Occupational therapists work one-on-one with clients of all ages and often take a holistic approach to their work. 

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is the practice of physically manipulating soft tissues in the human body, such as muscles, ligaments and skin. Many types of massage therapy exist, including Swedish, hot stone, deep tissue, trigger point, sport, reflexology and shiatsu. These practices are used to ease tension, reduce stress and relieve pain.

Sport Psychology

Sport psychology is an upper-level field of study that specializes in helping the mental performance and well-being of athletes and others who participate in sports settings. Those in this field may address issues such as developmental and social aspects of sports, systemic issues in sports settings, biobehavioral issues within sports, mental training for sports, developmental foundations of sports and other issues that connect mental processes with physical performance. Professionals in this field are often required to counsel, train, intervene and consult with players and coaches to ensure optimal performance. 

A Career in Kinesiology

To successfully begin your professional kinesiology journey, you need to earn the right degree. At East Central University Online, the online Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology program offers a convenient way to earn the credentials you need for the career you want. The program features fully online courses as well as 80 required hours of hands-on training to prepare you for the practical aspects of the field. Because the degree is offered in a digital format, you’ll have the opportunity to go further in your profession without sacrificing your commitments to work and life.