Kinesiologists are medical professionals who study how people move to look for ways to improve health and performance at work, in sports or in daily life. Also known as exercise physiologists, kinesiologists often work as part of an interdisciplinary physical conditioning and rehabilitation team at a university medical clinic or an athletic department. Most kinesiologists have at least an undergraduate degree and many have earned master's degrees.
Although nearly all kinesiologists entering the field today have a bachelor's degree in kinesiology, some older practitioners have come into the field from personal training, sports medicine or other areas. Kinesiology programs typically include classes in math, biology, anatomy, physiology, physics, biomedical engineering, biomechanics, statistics and psychology. A master's degree or a doctorate is generally required to work as a researcher.
Working With Clients
Most kinesiologists spend a lot of time working directly with clients. They examine people with all types of movement disorders and design rehabilitation programs to increase their patient's range of motion. Kinesiologists also work with athletes to improve their fitness and performance levels, and they sometimes coach or train athletes. Some also develop and/or conduct fitness and mobility programs for the elderly at hospitals, nursing homes and rehab facilities.
Designing Athletic Equipment
Kinesiologists who specialize in biomechanics and ergonomic kinesiology are often part of a design team for new athletic equipment. Their knowledge of body movement and biomechanics helps manufacturers to develop athletic shoes, balls, golf clubs and other equipment that enables athletes to deliver optimum performances. Kinesiologists working in industrial design typically have a graduate degree.
Teaching and Research
A master's degree is the minimum requirement if you are interested in a career in kinesiology research, and senior researchers and tenured faculty at academic institutions almost always have a doctorate. Common areas of research in kinesiology include studying the effect of exercise on performance and health outcomes, studying the biomechanics and motor control of human movement, and studying the factors impacting individual commitment to fitness and rehabilitation programs. Kinesiologists employed in academia typically also have teaching responsibilities, and most also act as advisers for one or more grad students.