Exercise science

Exercise science

Interested in studying various forms of physical activity and their impact on health, society and quality of life? As an exercise science major, you’ll take classes that examine physical activity in educational, wellness/fitness-oriented, therapeutic and performance-based settings. In addition to your diploma, you’ll also earn entry-level certification from either the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

of graduates are employed or in grad school within one year of graduation
  • More than 30% of majors attend graduate school immediately following graduation
  • Majors can study health promotion, health & exercise science, physical education or strength & conditioning

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Alayna Bailey ’14, lifestyle director, WesleyLife, Des Moines
  • Theron Stewart ’14, physical education and health teacher, Riverside Intermediate School, Carson
  • Justin Livingston ’14, head men's golf coach, Simpson College
  • Jasmine Garth ’11, doctor of physical therapy, Orthopedic Rehabilitation Associates, Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Nate Weir ‘05, assistant athletic trainer, Green Bay Packers, Green Bay, Wis.


  • CAAT (Club Associated with Athletic Training)
  • Exercise Science Club
  • Health Professions Club

No matter what your interests are, Central has a student group for you! Learn how you can get involved with groups and organizations at Central.

Kora Scotton

Kora Scotton

"I get to help people, study human anatomy and stay involved with sports as part of my major and eventual job!"

Read More

Graduate Placement

  • University of Washington, St. Louis, Mo., occupational therapy
  • University of Indianapolis, physical therapy
  • Des Moines University, public health
  • University of Nebraska Omaha, physical activity and health promotion
  • Iowa State University, kinesiology 
  • Des Moines University, Doctor of Physical Therapy 


  • Community Rehab, Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, Omaha, Neb.
  • University of Notre Dame, strength and conditioning
  • Mercy Hospital, Des Moines
  • YMCA, Newton & Oskaloosa

Courses & Faculty

The exercise science major is thoughtfully designed to give students a choice of tracks, all built upon a solid academic core. By design, majors learn all of the content necessary for successful careers and then have the opportunity to practice in an applied setting. 

Depending upon their chosen track, students engage the field by doing internships, practical experiences, undergraduate research and laboratory work. Students have the choice of four tracks: health promotions, health and exercise science, physical education or strength and conditioning.

Learn more about exercise science in the course catalog.

Exercise science photo
Meet the faculty:
  • Leslie Duinink, B.A., M.S., Associate Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include concussion research and public health (local, national and global)
  • Katelin Gannon, B.A., M.S., Lecturer of Exercise Science, interest areas include sport performance, impact of activity on chronic disease, older adult fitness, service learning, female athletes and ACL injuries
  • Shelli Green, B.A., M.S., Lecturer and Clinical Education Coordinator of Exercise Science, interest areas include athletic training and exercise science
  • Cody Huisman, B.A., D.C., Assistant Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include human anatomy and physiology, structural kinesiology, functional movement screens and strength and conditioning
  • David Pavlat, B.S., M.A., Ed.D., Associate Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include physiology, kinesiology
  • Pam Richards, B.S., M.S., Ed.D., Associate Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include nformation literacy, exercise science curriculum, program assessment and health/wellness education
  • John Roslien, B.S., M.S., Associate Professor Exercise Science, interest areas include professional leadership
  • Matthew Schirm, Lecturer of Exercise Science
  • Sara Shuger Fox, B.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include Electronic feedback for diet and physical activity, sports nutrition, Exercise Is Medicine and Blue Zones
  • Liz Vermeer, B.S., D.P.T., Assistant Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include gait/posture analysis and functional assessment for therapeutic exercise, motor learning for all age groups

The Central Difference

Take Advantage of Research Opportunities and Hands-On Experiences

Your ability to conduct research in an applied setting is an important component of the exercise science major. This includes the options to conduct collaborative research with central faculty members or to present your work to larger audiences at conferences across the country. If you choose to be part of thEmerging Scholars program, you will complete an honors thesis during your senior year.

Real-life experiences can positively impact your learning as well as your growingrésumé. If you’re interested in a health profession, consider a robust job-shadowing opportunity. Or you may want to engage in either a focused internship or practicum experience.

Learn in Nationally Recognized Facilities

In Central’s state-of-the-art exercise science building, you’ll find a dedicated classroom for the exercise science program that features taping stations instead of desks. The human performance lab features a hydrostatic underwater weighing tank, one of only three in the Midwest. The building uses LCD screens and classroom capture, which enables all classes to be videotaped so you can review them later. The adjacent Ron Schipper Fitness Center features a 2,000-quare-foot exercise science area.

Central College Exercise Science students


If you’re thinking of continuing your education in a graduate program in the health field, look to Central faculty members for expert advice and mentorship. They will ensure that you have a well-rounded background in the sciences and are fully prepared to take your entrance exams. The exercise science acceptance rate is very high, and Central has a great reputation with graduate schools because they know Central students are prepared and will be successful.

Take Your College Career to the Next Level: Study Abroad

Enhance your development as a global citizen and earn credits toward your major when you participate in one of Central’s international programs. Our Wales program expands your studies with “Outdoor Pursuits,” which includes rock climbing, spelunking and more. It’ll help you get that much more ahead while gaining international experience. Get the attention of prospective employers and graduate schools by adding this to your résumé. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.

Learn More

Want to find out more about exercise science at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.