Careers in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science
www.acsm.org • American College of Sports Medicine
What is Sports Medicine and Exercise Science?
SPORTS MEDICINE is the field of medicine dealing with
injuries sustained in athletic endeavors and/or illnesses
impacting sport performance. Sports medicine focuses
not only on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and
injuries related to sports, but also on injury/disease
prevention and management. The goal of sports medi-
cine is to assist the athlete in achieving both optimal
health and peak performance.
Historically, sports medicine was provided by the “team
physician” who worked primarily with college, profes-
sional, and other elite caliber athletes. Today, sports
medicine involves a comprehensive team of health care
professionals trained in a variety of backgrounds such as
athletic training, biomechanics, exercise physiology,
physical therapy, nursing, sport psychology, and nutrition.
Additionally, sports medicine is available to individuals
participating at all performance levels ranging from the
recreational to the professional athlete.
EXERCISE SCIENCE is the study of physiological and
functional adaptations to movement. Most colleges and
universities provide specific curriculum and/or academic
majors in the exercise sciences. Undergraduate pro-
grams are typically broad based and include general
study in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy and
physiology, kinesiology, exercise physiology, and fitness
programming. Graduate level programs typically provide
systematic study in specific areas of exercise physiology
with an emphasis on research.
Career opportunities for individuals graduating with
degrees in exercise science are numerous. Common
career tracks range from the research scientist to the
exercise practitioner in fitness and/or clinical settings. In
addition, other disciplines find it helpful to include
coursework in the exercise sciences. It is very common
for individuals studying in the exercise sciences to work in
the field of sport