Kinesiology, Applied Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology, Physiology, Recreology, and Physiotherapy

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.

Spending hours learning vocabulary words for my chemistry, anatomy/physiology, psychology, and French courses has had an interesting effect on me. Normally interested in acquiring new vocabulary but not quite best friends with a dictionary, due to my new habit, I now find myself pouncing on every new word that catches my eye, no matter how irrelevant to my studies, googling it, and carefully learning the particularities of its meaning. This newly formed habit is a bit pesky, but nevertheless useful. I’ve refreshed my knowledge base and deepened my understanding of the subtleties between terms of various natures.

Some of those terms are kinesiology, applied kinesiology, exercise physiology, physiology, recreology and physiotherapy. Most people have probably heard of these health related terms before—in fact, I’ve used at least half of them in my columns before and will probably use more of them in future columns pertaining to In motion, hint, hint—and have a general idea of what they mean, but probably don’t have a clear idea of what they encompass. Let me clear that up in the following article (which, I should warn you, features many of my botched attempts to write humorously while running over chemistry nomenclature in my head).

Kinesiology is the science of human movement. It’s a legitimate health profession that you can exerce in after attending university to for four years or so (to earn a bachelor’s degree) and taking specialized courses, some of them pertaining to the analysis of movement, others to specific sports, and others to physical education.

Applied kinesiology, a term that may seem quasi-equivalent to kinesiology, is something quite different. It’s a controversial method that some chiropracters use to ”diagnose” a plethora of ailments. It involves testing muscles, each of which are associated to a certain body part or condition.

Exercise physiology is similar to kinesiology—it is another domain that you can earn a bachelor’s degree in at university—but is perhaps a bit more focused on understanding movement than simply learning movement. This makes sense since physiology is the science that studies how the parts of the human body work.

Physiotherapy is another health profession that you can practice, after a several years of education of course, which I find is to how you move what a nutritionist/dietitian (the difference between these two is a topic for another column) is to what you eat. A physiotherapist uses his knowledge of how the body works to identify a patient’s problem and treat it through exercise (not ninety-minutes-of-recommended-physical-activity exercise; moving-x-body-part-in-x-way-x-times exercise). People who’ve been in an accident can work with a physiotherapy to regain their physical abilities.

Finally, let me elaborate on recreology, another area that some people study at university. If the idea of studying recreation has you conjuring images of having a full day of recess while other students labor over thick textbooks, conjure again. Earning a bachelor’s degree in recreology involves taking some basic courses (language courses and practical ”math” courses such as accounting, for example), and plenty of courses revolving around how others enjoy recreation. However, once a recreologist has a diploma in hand, he can work at making life fun in a variety of places (schools, hospitals, etc.).

Many thanks to the American Society of Exercise Physiologists, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, and what I’ve learned so far from biology for providing useful information that was used in this article.


Originally published in the Times & Transcript on October 9th, 2010.


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