Health & Kinesiology Blog

What can I do with this major?

So, what can I do with this major? That is a question I get quite often, and quite often I have a difficult time responding. The problem is that Exercise Science is really a professional program without a formal profession. What makes a formal profession? Typically it involves licensure, registry, or certification at the State level.  Examples are a Licensed Practical Nurse, a Registered Dietician, a Certified Public Accountant, or a Licensed/Certified Teacher. Louisiana is the only state that currently has a Licensed Clinical Exercised Physiologist although other states are lobbying for licensure of exercise professionals. This has been a difficult task, because in most states, physical therapists have a very strong lobby presence and tend to block state regulation of exercise physiologists. This is primarily due to a fear that these professionals will infringe on their “scope of practice.” This is really an unfounded fear and a good topic for a future blog.

For now though, what do we do with this degree?  Fortunately, the health-fitness industry is a vast profession that includes aspects like equipment production, sales and marketing, and management as well as the typical positions like personal training, wellness coaching, and health education. There is a need for fitness professionals in profit and not-for-profit settings including the club, corporate, and healthcare industries. One thing for sure, you must be aggressive and energetic in your job search and have a little entrepreneurial spirit.

Last year, John Ashworth from Madison, WI was the speaker for our annual Miller Lecture series. John (a.k.a. the Fitness Nomad) is indeed a true entrepreneur. He spoke specifically about the use of social media to promote yourself and your business. John keeps a highly active presence on Facebook and other social media. He recently posted the video below about fitness careers and the fitness industry in Facebook. You can also check out his website.

Finally, I would add that higher education (i.e., a college degree) is not just about job placement. It is more about learning to think more critically, communicate more clearly, and better understand the world around around us through the natural and social sciences. This can be achieved in most college degree programs including Exercise Science. Most degree programs in college are not professional programs, but still provide the wonderful opportunity for intellectual growth. If exercise and the biological and social sciences interest you, Exercise Science may be a good fit. I am confident you will be challenged intellectually.

Dr. Bean!/video/video.php?v=1608816012962


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Exercise is Medicine

A few years ago, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), in collaboration with the American Medical Association (AMA), launched Exercise is Medicine (EIM), a national initiative to “make physical activity and exercise a standard part of a disease prevention and treatment medical paradigm in the United States.”  EIM hopes to make counseling about exercise a routine part of patient care and seen as a vital sign like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, BMI, and other standard health indicators. The initiative is targeting physicians and other primary-care providers to make available the information and training they need to treat physical activity and exercise as an integral part of medical management. 

Although there is still research to do, the overwhelming evidence is that very little increases in physical activity can have a significant impact on overall health. The preponderance of research indicates that appropriate levels of physical activity decreases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and many cancers. While this information has been around for a while, Americans have only made slight improvements in their physical activity and exercise levels over the last decade.  Encouraging physicians to regularly discuss exercise with their patients could help in making us a little more active.

EIM also includes a component of encouraging the general public to approach their physicians about physical activity if their doctor does not typically discuss it. The next time you visit your physician, ask him or her about appropriate exercise levels for you.  If they seem reluctant to discuss it, tell them about EIM.  The EIM website, which includes resources for healthcare professionals and the general public, can be seen at:

Dr. Bean

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Weight Training for Weight Loss

Very often, fitness professionals recommend weight training as a primary means for weight loss. While theoretically weight training could be effective in facilitating weight reduction, it may not be as effective as is sometimes presented. By far, the greatest contributor to the total calories we burn each day is our resting metabolism simply because rest is where we spend most of our time.  Resting metabolism is the result of the biological processes necessary to keep our cells, and therefore us, alive. The biggest contributor to resting metabolism is skeletal muscle, and that is where the weight training for weight loss theory emanates. If we, in fact, significantly increase our muscle mass and resting metabolism, we could increase the amount of calories burned each day. The question I ask is, what kind of time will it take in a weight room to get significant gains in muscle size, and is this the best use of the exercise time we have when the overall goal is weight loss?

Most of us are not going to see significant gains in muscle size by following the basic recommendations for strength training (i.e., 2-3 days a week, moderate to heavy weights, for 8-12 reps on 8-10 different exercises). Women, in particular, won’t usually see substantial increases in muscle size simply because they don’t have the muscle composition or hormonal support for it. Even though we may realize gains in strength, this does not always result in gains in muscle size. Many of the initial strength gains are a result of neural improvement and not the result of increased muscle fiber size.  It’s not to say that we can’t increase muscle size, but for most of us, this will take a lot of time in the weight room. I believe that time would be better spent performing aerobic activity and closely monitoring our diet.

There is no question that weight training should be a part of a weight loss program.  It simply shouldn’t be used as the center piece. Supplementing aerobic exercise and caloric restriction with strength training helps preserve muscle mass and therefore resting metabolism. Preserving muscle mass is very different from increasing muscle mass and can be achieved with much less strength training.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have both taken research-based positions on weight training for weight loss.  Both say the evidence is equivocal at best. You can review both documents below.

ACSM        AHA

Dr. Bean


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Clinical Exercise Physiology

As a student interested in exercise and physical activity, you might have wondered about how you can take that interest and use it in a profession. There are many areas where exercise is used to maintain health or rehabilitate disease. A couple of questions you can ask yourself are, what kind of people do I want to work with (i.e., athletes, healthy adults, or those with disease) and in what kind of setting would I like to work (e.g., club, clinical, school, etc.)? If you are interested in working with individuals who need exercise for rehabilitation and you would like to be in a clinical setting, Clinical Exercise Physiology might be for you. A clinical exercise physiologist (CEP) is a “healthcare professional who is trained to work with patients with chronic diseases where exercise training has been shown to be of therapeutic benefit, including but not limited to cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, and metabolic disorders.”

CEPs  typically work in a medically supervised settings such as a hospital or rehabilitation center.These professionals usually hold at least a master’s degree in exercise physiology or a similar degree and  maintain a state license or professional certification such as ACSM’s Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist® (CES) or ACSM’s Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist® (RCEP).

ACSM recently launched the Clinical Exercise Physiology Association (CEPA). This organization is charged with the development of Clinical Exercise Physiology as a profession by enhancing and supporting research and application of exercise for disease prevention and rehabilitation in the clinical setting. If you would like to use your interest in exercise in a clinical setting, it may be worth looking into CEPA. You can explore the organization on their website at

Dr. Bean

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Underreported Childhood Obesity?

A very interesting report was cited recently on that indicates childhood obesity may be worse than we thought. Researchers from Houston, TX conducted a study that looked at the accuracy of parents' reporting of their children’s height and weight. Over 1,400 children at an orthopedic clinic were measured and comparisons were made to what parents of the children reported. The researchers presented their findings at the Annual Meeting of the American College of sports Medicine (ACSM). The study indicated that if parent reporting was the only method of gathering BMI data (i.e., height & weight), 21% of the actual obesity in the group studied would have been missed. This is important because most of the obesity prevalence is determined by BMI. The BMI components are gathered from parents who respond to questions about their children’s statue. Obesity numbers are then determined based on criteria set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

If this is an accurate representation of nationwide data, the obesity rates currently reported may be 1/5 less than they actually are.  Although this is a single study and needs to be replicated in other groups, it is alarming. Childhood obesity is a major health concern for Americans. If what we see now is underestimated to the degree this study suggests, we have much more work to do than we thought.

Regardless of the reporting mechanism, obesity among Americans is a significant problem. Intervention strategies should continue and evaluation of those strategies should help mold future initiatives. It also maybe time to look at our methods for determining overweight and obesity. BMI is a simple method, but must be accurate if we are to use the information effectively.

To review the complete article, see:

Dr. Bean

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