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  1. Define exercise physiology.

  2. Identify the various areas of professional opportunity for exercise physiologists.

  3. Briefly describe the history of exercise physiology, including the influence of ancient Greece, early pioneers who studied exercise-related topics, and advancements in science-related technology.

  4. Define physical education.

  5. Briefly describe the origins of physical education as a school curriculum.

  6. Explain the general evolution of physical education programs in the United States.

  7. Describe the modern fitness movement, including current and future emphases of research in exercise science.


Visit DavisPlus at for study and practice resources, including online quizzes, animations that help explain physiological processes, podcasts concerning news and career trends in exercise physiology, and practice references.



  • Upon graduating from high school, Charlotte decided that she wanted to go to college to study human physiology, as she had always had an interest in learning about science and biology. Initially, Charlotte was undecided on a major for her studies, so she enrolled in a collection of entry-level biology, anatomy, and physiology courses during her freshman year. The more Charlotte learned about the human body's incredible potential for adaptation as a response to physical exertion, the more she realized she was interested in studying exercise physiology. Now all she had to decide was how she could apply her education to a profession that she would enjoy and that included helping people improve health through exercise.

    What are Charlotte's professional options in exercise physiology?

  • Charlotte graduated college with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science. Her education provided her with basic knowledge of human physiology and how the body responds to the challenges of exercise. Now she wants to apply this knowledge in the real world to help people become healthier. One area that sparked Charlotte's interests was corporate wellness. During her undergraduate program, she interned as a fitness instructor at a large insurance corporation. During her internship, Charlotte helped employees with their fitness assessments and exercise programs. She also gave several brown bag lunch seminars on the benefits of eating healthy and being physically active.


Exercise physiology has its roots in the fundamental disciplines of anatomy and physiology, which explore the structure and function of the human body. Studying the specific challenges to the body's interrelated systems as experienced through the stress of an acute bout of exercise and as a result of chronic physical training are the core tenets of exercise physiology.

This chapter presents a brief historical review of the field of exercise physiology, as well as the importance of exercise physiology in the development of the academic disciplines of exercise science, physical education, sports, and other health professions. The principles of exercise physiology, as they apply to the general population and to society as a whole, are also covered.



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