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What it’s like to be an exercise and sports science major

Two Meredith students on treadmills in the fitness center

Do you enjoy working with people? Do you like being physically active? Do you enjoy being outdoors? If so, being an exercise and sports science (ESS) major might be right for you. I developed a passion for ESS after an injury in high school led me to become interested in being a physical therapist. As a person who is naturally active, going into ESS felt like the right path for me. If you’re someone who wants to take a hands-on approach to improving people’s lives, you’ll excel in the exercise and sports science industry.

A Range of Activities

ESS combines a mixture of physical activity and classroom work. Exercise is a crucial part of the major: we recognize the importance of exercising every day, and we get to take our choice of exercise classes. While we’re active, ESS majors also spend a lot of time in the lab, where we learn how to work with the technology used for clinical health assessments. Here, we study the impact of exercise on people’s bodies by monitoring things such as metabolic rate and oxygen consumption. Studying the human body on a scientific level and learning to understand biomechanics and physiology one hour and then exercising the next makes the major both energizing and engaging.

As an ESS major, you’ll also have the opportunity to do independent research. For instance, this fall I will be studying the impact of foam rolling on muscle soreness. ESS majors at Meredith also travel to conferences through our Sport Science Association, where we can network, develop professional skills, and even present our research!

A Fitness Family

ESS majors are energetic people who are passionate about physical well-being. We’re often very outdoorsy and many of our majors are student-athletes on campus. Because we balance our studies with these extracurricular activities (as well as with daily exercise!) we build strong time-management skills. The major involves a lot of group work, from joint projects to group exercise classes, so you get to know the people in your major while building strong communication skills. As ESS majors, we also build a lot of confidence: one of our required classes is Exercise Leadership, where we learn to conduct group exercise and to prescribe people an exercise regimen that works for them. In this class, I developed my public speaking skills and received my certification to teach group exercise.

Flexibility

One great advantage of ESS is the flexibility it offers. At Meredith, the ESS major provides two concentrations – health and wellness and health and physical education. These pathways offer a range of career opportunities. Students who concentrate in health and physical education have the option of earning a teaching licensure, where they can become educators. ESS majors can go on to be chiropractors, occupational, physical, and recreational therapists, physician assistants, athletic trainers, group exercise instructors, and more.

Many graduates of the ESS program have gone on to become teachers, work in commercial and private fitness, health, and sports clubs, or landed jobs in athletics administration and coaching. Not to mention, you can continue your education by attending graduate school for a career in healthcare or an advanced degree in education.

For those who are entrepreneurial at heart, you can even learn how to start your own gym! With obesity rates and other health concerns on the rise, ESS is more important than ever. For me, hearing people tell me that I’ve helped them lose weight and feel healthier is what makes the major so rewarding. No matter what career you choose, you’re helping others.

A Well-Rounded Major

Overall, ESS gives me the opportunity to improve people’s quality of life and to pursue my passion in an active, engaging way. So if you want a career that lets you get up and move rather than being confined to an office, and gives you the chance to be active, social, studious, and fulfilled by bettering people’s lives, consider majoring in exercise and sports science.

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