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ISSUE 116 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/8/2002

Exercising a new major

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer


Friday, November 8, 2002

With a list of courses ranging from Psychology 125 to Biomechanics, exercise science, the newest major to step onto campus, has become a integral part of the physical education department. According to the college catalog, the major, which began in January is an in-depth, multidisciplinary study of human movement and performance in sport-related fields. There are 10 core courses, which support academic links across disciplines and provide excellent preparation in a wide variety of fields. The principles of the major mirror the former sports science major, which was laid to rest in 1996. Associate professor of physical education Gary Wicks explained that the department has had an interest among prospective students in sports science after the department lost the major. Many of these students were forced to go to another institution because their needs could not be met at St. Olaf. The strong interest among prospective and current students, and the fact that the entire faculty remained on campus made the exercise science major feasible. This major can be a springboard to so many fields, department chair Cindy Book said. Independent studies and internships become an important way to give students real life experience in the field they would like to pursue in the future. Book feels students gain the most direction from independent studies and the final senior seminar. Graduate-level study is one avenue many students take after St. Olaf. An exercise science major can also lead students into various medical, psychological, and educational fields. Those who have graduated with the former sports science major commonly work as physical therapists, sports psychologists, chiropractors and professors, just to name a few. The class of 2002 graduated three students with the exercise science major in conjunction with the Center for Integrative Studies, which allows students to design their own major. Since last January, over 20 students have declared exercise science majors. Students in each class have shown similar interest in the field. Book feels there are many students who have yet to actually formalize their plans to become exercise science majors based on the popularity of the courses and the breadth of the major. Biology, psychology, nursing, and physical education courses work hand-in-hand in order to cover a variety of subjects on both a cellular and a movement based level. Because of the similarity of the coursework many students choose to take the biomedical concentration in conjunction with the exercise major. Labs constitute a large portion of the required coursework. One example of a lab involves a student running on a treadmill while hooked up to various probes. Respiration rate, heart rate, anaerobic and aerobic threshold are calculated. Students take this information and use it to understand the way the heart and lungs function and how muscles and lungs fatigue while exercising. Cadavers are examined without dissecting throughout the semester, which works in combination with anatomy courses in order to better understand the way the body functions along with names of muscles, bones, and neural systems. Some students who were initially on a pre-med track have taken exercise science courses and realized their interests are closer to this field. Some athletes also show interest in courses that make up this major after discussing sports psychology and personal therapy with coaches and trainers. Five seniors have declared the major based on both rumor and preliminary plans of the major before it was finalized. It would be difficult for a senior to pick up the major if their coursework did not overlap as much as mine did, said Chad Thomas 03. I have always been interested in both biology and athletic training, so exercise science seemed like a perfect fit. Interest for this major is continually growing, and Book sees a strong prospect for the future of the exercise science major.





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