Kinesiology, also known as human kinetics, is the science of human movement. In the United States and most countries, kinesiology refers to a field of scientific study. In Canada, Kinesiology has been designated a regulated health profession [1] The word comes from the Greek words kinesis (movement) and kinein (to move).

The science of kinesiology addresses the physiological, mechanical, and psychological mechanisms associated with human and animal movement. Applications of kinesiology in human health include the rehabilitation professions, such as physical and occupational therapy, as well as applications in the sport and exercise industries..[2] Individuals who have earned degrees in kinesiology can work in research, the fitness industry, some clinical settings, and in industrial environments.[3] Studies of human and animal motion include measures from motion tracking systems, electrophysiology of muscle and brain activity, various methods for monitoring physiological function, and other behavioral and cognitive research techniques .[4][5]

Kinesiology as described above should not be confused with applied kinesiology, a controversial[6][7][8] chiropractic diagnostic method.[9]



Scientists in the area of kinesiology study human and animal movement, performance, and function by applying the sciences of biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and neuroscience. Applications of kinesiology in human health include the rehabilitation professions, such as physical and occupational therapy, as well as applications in the sport and exercise industries. It should be emphasized that kinesiology is a field of scientific study, and does not prepare individuals for clinical practice. A baccalaureate degree in kinesiology can provide strong preparation for graduate study in biomedical research, as well as graduate study in professional programs, such as allied health and medicine.

Whereas the term "kinesiologist" is neither a licensed nor professional designation in the United States nor most countries (with the exception of Canada), individuals with training in this area can provide consulting services, conduct research and develop policies related to rehabilitation, human motor performance, ergonomics, and occupational health and safety. In North America, kinesiologists may study to earn a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, or Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Kinesiology or a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree, while in Australia or New Zealand, they are often conferred an Applied Science (Human Movement) degree (or higher). Many doctoral level faculty in North American kinesiology programs received their doctoral training in related disciplines, such as neuroscience, mechanical engineering, psychology, and physiology.

Physical activity

There is a large debate centered on the technical definition of physical activity. These debates range from whether or not an action is voluntary or involuntary, purposeful in direction within a specific activity, as well as the difference between movement and physical activity.[1] One way to think about the relationship between movement and physical activity is this: Movement is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for physical activity. If you are performing a physical activity, you are using movement; but not every movement is a physical activity – e.g., blinking an eye, swallowing, contraction of diaphragm.[1] One definition of physical activity is as follows: Voluntary movement intentionally performed in order to achieve a goal in sport, exercise, or any other sphere of life experience. In relation to this definition of physical activity, one definition of movement is as follows: Includes any change in the position of your body parts relative to each other.[1] Physical activity may be concluded as "the willful exertion of the body or a portion thereof with the intent of achieving a desired result, often performed repetitively."

Scope of practice

In most countries, Kinesiology refers to an area of study and is not associated with a professional designation. In Canada, Kinesiology is a professional designation associated with the assessment of movement, performance, and function; and the rehabilitation, prevention, and management of disorders to maintain, rehabilitate, and enhance movement, performance, and function in the areas of sport, recreation, work, exercise, and general activities of daily living.[10]


Kinesiology was made a regulated health profession in the province of Ontario in the summer of 2007 [11] and similar proposals have been made for other Canadian provinces.

United States

In the United States, the American Kinesiology Association is the national kinesiology organization of university departments providing professional information about kinesiology degree programs.[12]

Health services

  • Health Promotion: Kinesiologists working in the health promotion industry focus on working with individuals to enhance the health, fitness, and well-being of the individual. Kinesiologists can be found working in fitness facilities, personal training/corporate wellness facilities, and industry.
  • Clinical/Rehabilitation: Kinesiologists work with individuals with disabling conditions to assist in regaining their optimal physical function. They work with individuals in their home, fitness facilities, rehabilitation clinics, and at the worksite. They also work alongside physiotherapists.
  • Ergonomics: Kinesiologists work in industry to assess suitability of design of workstations and provide suggestions for modifications and assistive devices.
  • Health and Safety: Kinesiologists are involved in consulting with industry to identify hazards and provide recommendations and solutions to optimize the health and safety of workers.
  • Disability Management/Case Coordination: Kinesiologists recommend and provide a plan of action to return an injured individual to their optimal function in all aspects of life.
  • Management/Research/Administration/Health and Safety: Kinesiologists frequently fulfill roles in all above areas, perform research, and manage businesses.[13]

See also


  1. a b c d Hoffman, S. J. (2008). Shirl J. Hoffman. ed (in English). (3 ed.). Human Kinetics. . 
  2. . Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  3. . Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  4. Bodo Rosenhahn, Reinhard Klette and Dimitris Metaxas (eds.). Human Motion - Understanding, Modelling, Capture and Animation. Volume 36 in `Computational Imaging and Vision', Springer, Dordrecht, 2007
  5. Ahmed Elgammal, Bodo Rosenhahn, and Reinhard Klette (eds.) Human Motion - Understanding, Modelling, Capture and Animation. 2nd Workshop, in conjunction with ICCV 2007, Rio de Janeiro, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, LNCS 4814, Springer, Berlin, 2007
  6. Carroll, Robert Todd "These are empirical claims and have been tested and shown to be false". . . Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  7. Atwood KC (2004). . MedGenMed 6 (1): 33. . . 
  8. Haas, Mitchell; Robert Cooperstein, and David Peterson (2007-08). . Chiropractic & Osteopathy 15: 11. . . . Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  9. Citations supporting considering it a chiropractic technique:
  10. . Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  11. . 2007-06-04. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  12. . 2001-01-06. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  13. . Retrieved 2009-07-25.