Department of Health and Exercise Science

The United States faces significant challenges regarding the health of its population as a result of inactivity, poor nutrition, and sedentary work environments.  This challenge is being met by the graduates of the Department of Health and Exercise Science (HES) by providing students with up-to-date knowledge in the areas of wellness, exercise, and healthy living choices.  The department’s programs in exercise science, health promotion,  public health studies, and physical/health education teaching prepare graduates to help both individuals and communities improve health.  

The four majors in the department are:

The exercise science major is designed for students interested in a variety of professional graduate programs such as physical therapy, chiropractic, physician assistant, nursing, biomechanics, exercise physiology, athletic training, and other health-related fields.

The health promotion major prepares students for work in corporate health promotion programs, state agencies, health clubs or occupational therapy.

The physical education teaching and health education teaching major leads to licensure as either a health education teacher at middle and secondary school levels or at the elementary and secondary school levels.

The public health studies major prepares students for work in areas such as mental and emotional health services; alcohol, tobacco and drug control and rehabilitation; nutrition, fitness, sexual health and general wellness; disease control; and other areas related to communicating, educating and offering resources to promote community health. 

Learning opportunities outside of the classroom:

Internships. Our majors find internships at large corporations, community-based organizations and nonprofits. Students have interned at health clubs, small businesses and physical therapy clinics. Physical therapy students work in a clinical setting, while health students work for vendors of services or in-house wellness programs of companies. 

Study abroad. Our students travel to Norway and Sweden to examine factors that play a role in Scandinavians valuing and adopting a physically active lifestyle throughout their life. They learn about Scandinavian well-being, a holistic concept that embraces many aspects of a person’s lifespan such as enjoying exercising outdoors, living green, consuming a nutritional diet, and making time for stress reduction as they travel from Oslo, Norway to Idre, Sweden with stays in Lillehammer, Geilo, Voss, and Bergen.

Faculty research, presentations, publications, etc.

The department faculty is dedicated to outstanding teaching, mentorship, intellectual inquiry, research and service to the community and the profession. Faculty research includes the effects of exercise on reading, death and dying, the kinematics of cross-country skiing, throwing biomechanics and the effect of feedback on improving performance. Research is also being done on teaching and coaching strategies for high school physical educators and strategies to encourage children to be more active.

Students have the opportunity to pursue research in their interest areas under the guidance of a faculty member as part of required coursework. Students disseminate their research findings at a presentation to faculty and peers and are encouraged to submit abstracts and present posters at regional and national professional meetings.

Facilities & Equipment

The Department of Health and Exercise Science is located in the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex.  Students have the opportunity to learn assessment skills on advanced industry specific equipment, allowing students the opportunity to put their academic studies to the test and learn hands on.  See some of the different department equipment below.

Biomechanics students have opportunities to test and complete research with a multitude of equipment.  A new electromyography (EMG) machine is available for students to work with which tests muscle stimulation and detects normal and abnormal function. This equipment is invigorating student interest and is being used in labs and research studies by both students and faculty. 

Students are often able to use the EMG in collaboration with Force Plates, which measure the ground reaction forces generated by the body, to quantify balance, gait and other parameters of biomechanics.

Students also can learn and complete research using a Biodex, which measures force and torque over a pre-set range of motion and velocity.  The system can be arranged to gather data for concentric and eccentric isokinetic contractions as well as reactive motion, passive motion, isotonic and isometric contractions.  These capabilities apply to the hip, knee, elbow, shoulder, ankle and wrist joints.

The Polar Heart Rate Station is used to track the data of multiple participants during one training period.  It has a GPS system that tracks heart rate, heart rate max, duration of workout, average speed, and offers an overall breakdown of the workout through heat tracking.  In addition, the department has a number of other Polar sensors and watches for the students to use in labs and for research projects.

The VO2 Max measures the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise. It is a common measurement used to establish the aerobic endurance of an athlete for program training.

The department has a BodPod which is an air displacement plethysmograph used to determine body composition.  This is often used in labs and research studies.

The Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) is a 2-dimensional bone scanner and analyzer which can measure bone density in all areas of the body.  This equipment has the ability to analyze body composition to determine bone, fat, and muscle content.

The department also has a Peripheral Quantitative Computer Tomography (pQCT) machine which is a 3-dimensional bone scanner and analyzer.  This measures bone density as well as factors relation to bone density such as area, mineral content, cortical and trabecular thickness, among other information.