History

In 1965, the University of Massachusetts Amherst created the nation’s first Department of Exercise Science (now called Kinesiology) under the leadership of visionary researchers and academicians in the field of exercise science. Originally part of the School of Physical Education, the Department later joined the School of Public Health and Health Sciences in 1993 to better realize the department’s mission of attaining optimal human health and well-being.

Since its inception, our Department has addressed a wide variety of questions. Some questions are basic: How are nerves, muscles, and joints coordinated to accomplish complex movements, or what regulates the mixture of fuels oxidized at rest and during exercise? Others have applications to health: How much of what we call aging is actually due to physical inactivity and how can physical activity be used to prevent and/or manage chronic disease and disability? Still others involve rehabilitation or exercise performance: What factors contribute to musculoskeletal injury and how can they be reversed, and what limits human performance and how can it be optimized?

In recent years, the field of kinesiology has evolved toward less emphasis on sport and a much stronger focus on an understanding of human movement and the role of physical activity and exercise in health and disease. To those ends, kinesiologists use tools from molecular biology, neuroscience, engineering, medicine, and computer science to work on unique problems in a diverse array of settings that include laboratories, hospitals, health and wellness centers, and field environments.