What is Kinesiology?

Many sports teams, military veterans, people with disabilities and the elderly benefit from the science of kinesiology. In fact, whether it is asking a gym trainer about a specific exercise routine or following the advice of a physical therapist about strengthening muscles, sooner or later most people will meet someone in this field. What is this science, and how does it impact society?

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Defining the Term

Kinesiology is the scientific study of human movement. The study has different aspects or branches. Two of these are pure and applied kinesthetics. The pure study looks at movement to understand the kinds of problems that can arise for people and then develops possible treatments. The applied branch is the use of specific treatment methods to address movement disorders in patients. Scientists studying movement will look at anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, but they may also include other disciplines. For instance, they study the context in which movement occurs, and that may involve the psychology of movement, ecology, philosophy or even sociology.


Many careers have their foundations in this science. People who work as athletic trainers or fitness coaches must understand how the body reacts to exercise. Corporations often have wellness centers that utilize the services of exercise or wellness specialists. Sports teams hire trainers to keep athletes in top physical condition. Schools hire physical education teachers. The science of movement is also vital for physical and occupational therapists. Long-term-care facilities hire activity directors to maintain mobility and social networking in their patients. Veterans hospitals need people with this specialization to help wounded service people recover. In addition, some professionals in the field work with disabled individuals to adapt activities for their needs.

Courses Students in this field Take

Although some careers in this area do not require a college degree, many do. People with only a high school education often take certification classes to become employable. Courses in the discipline, whether through certification or a degree, might include things like physical conditioning, adaptive or therapeutic exercises and sports for disabled individuals. Degree programs often include classes in dance and movement, ballet, strength training, water exercises and specific sports. The programs are similar to sports medicine and could even entail psychology or sociology classes.

Kinds of Salaries Earned

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists salaries for several professions beneath the umbrella of this discipline. A fitness trainer at a gym earns a median salary of $38,160 per year according to the website. Athletic trainers who work with athletes to prevent and treat sports injuries earn a median salary of $45,630. Physical education teachers generally earn a bit more than $58,000 a year. Post-secondary educators in this discipline can earn about $75,420. Kinesiotherapists, who work primarily in veterans’ hospitals, are usually federal employees and earn salaries commensurate to a GS-7 to a GS-12 level. That is $34,319 to $60,877. Physical therapists can expect to earn about $85,400. Occupational therapists make a bit less at $81,910. Those people who work in corporate environments may earn higher salaries as well. The number of careers based in this area and the diversity of educational levels and employment areas means salaries vary dramatically.

The variety of these careers is also affected by the implementation of technological developments in the architecture of movement and in treatment strategies. As the study of human movement continues to grow and to move into other disciplines, kinesiology will increasingly give birth to other uses and career paths.

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