Distance education programs in exercise and wellness can be found under names like health fitness, as well as health and wellness. Many programs are available entirely online, but an internship may be required. Some programs are meant for students who have already gained vocational experience, earned their associate's degrees and/or fulfilled general education requirements. Courses can cover sports management, exercise physiology, fitness trends and nutrition.
Bachelor's Degree in Exercise and Wellness
Required courses for online bachelor's degree programs in exercise and wellness typically include human anatomy, sport psychology and basic first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Programs usually take 3-4 years to complete. They typically consist of a mixture of core and specialized courses that aim to promote preventative health care and exercise.
Distance learning in exercise and wellness commonly involves accessing lectures and study materials online, as well as the use of textbooks and recorded video instruction. Students who already work in exercise and wellness may be able to gain course credit through their vocational experience, while others might be required to complete an internship in the field.
Exercise and wellness programs typically include one year of required courses designed to provide a foundation in the principles of health and exercise, after which the student selects a concentration, like nutrition or physical therapy. Most programs also have general education requirements.
Human Anatomy and Physiology
Gaining an understanding of the human body is a basic requirement of most exercise and wellness programs. Topics include chemistry, anatomical terminology and skeletal or muscular system training.
Principles of Exercise and Kinesiology
Kinesiology, the study of bodily movement, is central to studying exercise and fitness. Students learn how movement affects overall wellness, in addition to studying different trends in exercise.
Courses on diet and nutrition explore a variety of themes, including food groups, human food requirements and global food culture. They also emphasize the importance of diet and nutrition in promoting health.
Graduates of exercise and wellness programs can pursue careers in fields such as athletic training, exercise physiology and wellness coaching. They may work as managers or trainers at gyms, fitness centers, schools and health spas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that fitness trainers and aerobics instructors earned a median annual wage of $36,160 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
The BLS suggests that job prospects will remain good in the exercise and health field; employment opportunities for fitness trainers and instructors were expected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024. The demand for health and fitness workers was likely to remain strong because of the increasing elderly population and concern regarding the incidence of obesity.
Continuing Education Information
Voluntary certification for fitness workers is available through a number of organizations, including the American Council on Exercise, the Aerobics and Fitness Association and the National Association for Fitness Certification. While not required to work in the health and fitness field, certification may be favored by employers. Some graduates go on to further specialize in their chosen field with a master's degree in exercise and fitness or health and wellness. Other graduates might pursue advanced degrees in related fields, like occupational health or nursing.
In an online bachelor's degree program in exercise and wellness, students start by exploring the many factors that affect health before choosing an area in which to specialize. Course content is typically provided through readings and video lectures, and it can prepare graduates for employment and voluntary certification as coaches or trainers.