What is Kinesiology & How Can it Help You?

When I tell people what I got my degree in, I often get a confused look on their face and some kind of response like, “Kinesi-who???”.  I don’t blame them, because I hadn’t ever heard of the term until I began my pursuit of education and an academic advisor had mentioned it to me. An easy way of explaining kinesiology is that it is exercise science…. on steroids. Commonly, you will hear that kinesiology is “the study of human movement”. Which, yes, this is true… but it really is much more than just about “human movement” and I think it is a poor way of explaining what kinesiology actually is.

So, let’s dive a little deeper. Kinesiology can be considered a broad/blanket term that suggests the study of human movement. Kinesiologists study human movement from the cellular (micro) level to the whole person (macro) level and even the psychology behind human movement and exercise. There are a few different areas that make up the foundation of the study of Kinesiology which are listed below and include some of the things that are taught within each category.

 Motor Learning Development/ Neurology of Human Movement

The neurological principles behind how we move

The stages of movement development from birth until death

How exercise can influence or be influenced by injury or deficiencies of the brain

Functional Anatomy

The location of anatomical structures including muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, etc. and what muscles are used during any type of movement.


How to analyze the physics of internal and external forces acting through the body and understand what they mean

Gait analysis

Running biomechanics analysis

Postural Analysis

Breathing mechanics

Exercise Physiology

Acute and chronic physiologic adaptations to exercise

How the cells, tissues, organs, organ systems respond to exercise and physical exertion (or lack of)

How to design programs to optimize strength, power, muscle hypertrophy, aerobic endurance, anaerobic capacity, etc.

General & Sports Specific Nutrition

Energy systems

Exercise Psychology

How exercise affects the brain chemically, structurally, and behaviorally

How to motivate people to start being physically active

How to create a motivating environment and teach people to become internally motivated to work out

How to structure a workout program to combat specific issues such as: cognitive decline, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, depression, etc.


These foundational aspects of kinesiology can be further broken down into more specific subcategories and specialties. Other topics we learn about include:

Corrective Exercise

Sports Specific Training

Orthopedic Rehabilitation

Recovery methods for exercise/injury

Injury Prevention

Speed & Agility

Reaction Time

Skill Development

The study of kinesiology is also usually preceded by general science classes before one can be accepted into a program. Some of these classes include: general anatomy/physiology, physics, chemistry, and calculus. These classes tend to be on the more boring side of things but are critical in developing a solid understanding of kinesiology.

So, kinesiology is not just “the study of human movement”. This study is comprised of a variety of subcategories that enable practitioners to get/keep people healthy, prevent injury and disease, help them come back from injury and disease, optimize athletic ability, and encourage longevity and overall wellness.

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