First things first, kinesiology is the study of the mechanics of body movements, sometimes used interchangeably with the term “exercise science.” Whatever you call it, it’s a field that is booming in terms of careers and occupations, and the program at HU is following suit.
Change in the Air
The Department of Kinesiology at Huntington University has undergone major changes in the last several years. From new equipment to new faculty to new majors, it’s clear the program is headed in the right direction. Alumni Dr. Fred Miller returned to HU in the summer of 2016 as an exercise science professor and as the new department chair. Miller earned his masters from Eastern New Mexico University and his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. Prior to returning to HU, he taught at Anderson University for eight years in the exercise science department.
Miller believes that HU’s program holds a unique advantage as a small Christian university. The setting is more personalized. Professors have an ample amount of time to meet and work with students.
A small, personable Christian school is one of the reasons that Lacy Deitrick choose to attend HU. She says that she has enjoyed all her kinesiology professors and they have been positive influences during her college career. Deitrick is studying Exercise and Movement Science and plans to graduate this May and continue her education in occupational therapy.
“I believe kinesiology is great major that prepares a student for occupational therapy school,” Deitrick said.
Miller is excited about the new kinesiology equipment on campus that allows students to expand their skills. Students have the opportunity to conduct their own research as they collect and analyze data to further understand the concepts of kinesiology.
About 50 students are currently enrolled in kinesiology program, and Miller expects these numbers to grow within the next few years after some rebuilding and restructuring of the program. New equipment such as the Metabolic Cart, iWorx, Bod Pod and Monark bike have been worked into the curriculum and the addition of more equipment is expected. Miller hopes to bring in new professors to add experience, variety and new concentrations of study. This growth is aided by job opportunities within the kinesiology field. Occupational therapy students are in particularly high demand and HU is trying to capitalize on that demand with its new occupational therapy assistant program.
While enrolled in one of the four programs offered with the department, including exercise and movement science, sport and exercise, pre- athletic training, and new this year – occupational therapy assistant, students have the opportunity to participate in internships and practice what they learn in the classroom. For examples, some students visit the YMCA to observe personal trainers or wellness directors and then take initiative to design and lead workouts.
Austin House, a kinesiology student, chose his field of study for personal interests, but also for the increasing demand of occupations.
“The kinesiology department as a whole offers many fun and unique opportunities as well as privileges,” said House. “The department is also on the verge of growing and making more improvements.”
The study of kinesiology goes beyond a future career. Kinesiology helps individuals understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Learning how to balance physical activity and nutrition can not only lead to a higher level of fitness, it can also create a happier individual. Understanding the nutritional value of food is equally important because diet greatly influences an individual’s overall health and well-being.
This idea of total wellness pairs nicely with the vision Miller has for the program, including new courses like exercise testing that will instruct students how to design effective workouts, assess health, and use equipment to test health and fitness.
“Stay tuned,” said Miller with a smile. “More changes are coming.”