Exercise science

Exercise science

Students who study exercise science at Central study various forms of physical activity and the impact it has on health, society and quality of life. Classes examine physical activity in educational, wellness/fitness-oriented, therapeutic and performance-based settings. Students majoring in exercise science can then tailor their education by selecting one of four tracks. In addition to their diploma, graduates receive 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

  • Family practice physician and AT program medical director, Upper Iowa University, West Union
  • Assistant director of student health services, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minn.
  • Doctor of physical therapy, Des Moines
  • Health coach, Healthways, Des Moines
  • Associate professor of wellness/department chair/wellness director, Waldorf College, Forest City
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach, Brown University, Providence, R.I.


  • 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.

LJ Lipscomb

LJ Lipscomb

With a dream of competing in the Olympics, LJ Lipscomb has devoted himself to running trackā€”and to his exercise science classes that promote his second dream of becoming a coach or personal trainer.

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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., Lecturer 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 information literacy, exercise science curriculum and health education
  • John Roslien, B.S., M.S., Associate Professor Exercise Science, interest areas include professional leadership and international travel
  • Matthew Schirm, Lecturer of Exercise Science
  • Sara Shuger Fox, B.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include exercise as medicine and electronic feedback for diet and physical activity
  • 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

Research Opportunities

The ability to conduct research in an applied setting is an important component of the exercise science major. While not a requirement, many students choose to conduct collaborative research with Central faculty members. Many majors go on to present their work to larger audiences at conferences across the country. Students who are part of the emerging scholars program complete an honors thesis during their senior year.


Many exercise science majors continue their education in a graduate program in the health field. Faculty members expertly advise and mentor students to ensure they have a well-rounded and solid background in the sciences and are prepared to take entrance exams. The exercise science acceptance rate is very high, and Central has a great reputation with graduate schools that know Central students are prepared and will be successful.

Real-Life Experiences

All exercise science majors are encouraged to engage in real-life experiences. Working with the career center, there are robust job-shadowing opportunities for those interested in health professions. In addition, many students engage in either a focused internship or practicum experience. 

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.


Central’s state-of-the-art exercise science building includes a dedicated classroom for the athletic training 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 for review by students. The adjacent Ron Schipper Fitness Center features a 2,000-square-foot athletic training area.

Central College Exercise Science students

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.