Mobility and Movement: A Look into the Exercise Science Department and Dr. McCole

Dr. Steve McCole is the chair of the exercise science department.  He currently teaches Introduction to Exercise Science, Human Physiology and Senior Capstone, but his favorite class to teach is Exercise Physiology, which he taught for the previous 15 years and still teaches in the graduate program. He has been the Department Chair for eight years.

“Being Department Chair has been a lot of fun and a good opportunity to get to know a lot of students,” said Dr McCole. He loves being an advisor for students in the exercise science major. There are also students from biology and psychology majors that are interested in allied health fields who he advises aside from their advisors in their departments.

“Allied health is often thought of as all of the other health care professions other than medicine (doctors) and nursing,” McCole said.

“On our campus most of the students that are pursuing a career in one of the allied health fields are thinking about athletic training, physical therapy, physician assistant, or occupational therapy.  Many of the allied health fields are growing due to the increasing need to provide medical services to our population.  While nursing generally isn’t officially considered an allied health field, I do advise students interested in pursuing nursing also,” he added.

Exercise science puts a focus on the study of human movement and how that movement impacts health and/or performance as well as looking at how our health impacts our ability to move.

McCole said “we can easily talk about trying to improve performance in sports but we also look at how we might improve performance in the lives of non-athletes. Maybe with exercise we increase the performance of workers on a job or allow older adults to function better in their lives so that maybe they can stay in their homes longer.”

The exercise science department is one of the largest majors on campus with 170-180 undergraduate majors. There are six tenured faculty members, two lecturers and one coach. This is one of the departments on campus with both a graduate and undergraduate program.

Undergraduate courses focus on how the human body functions, and how psychology, sociology, sports, and human health all function in society. The graduate program is a more advanced degree in exercise science. It’s recommended that students who want to teach physical education pursue this degree.

Students can consider a lot of careers with an exercise science degree. Some students in the major look to go to medical school or nursing school, some students look to become athletic trainers, physician assistants, or work in physical therapy (likely the largest subset of the major). Some students go into fitness industries and work as personal trainers, or strength and performance coaches who help athletes perform better.

McCole believes exercise science majors play a big role in people’s lives because “they focus on health related issues, reducing risk factors for disease, and improving performance.”