Kinesiology programs are well positioned to create and develop partnerships within the university, with local health care providers, and with the community to integrate and enhance the activities of professional training, community service, public health outreach, and collaborative research. Partnerships with medical and health care organizations may be structured to fulfill accreditation standards and the objectives of the “Exercise is Medicine®” initiative to improve public health through primary prevention. Barriers of scale, location, time, human resources, and funding can be overcome so all stakeholder benefits are much greater than the costs.
Peter W. Grandjean, Burritt W. Hess, Nicholas Schwedock, Jackson O. Griggs, and Paul M. Gordon
John R. Todorovich, Daniel K. Drost, F. Stephen Bridges, and Christopher K. Wirth
Disciplinary isolation has facilitated health education, public health, and physical education professionals to sometimes pursue common goals without the benefit of interdisciplinary collaboration and perspectives. Recognizing the potential benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration efforts to solve complex problems, faculty members at the University of West Florida developed an innovative doctoral program combining the disciplines of physical education, health education, and health promotion. Beginning with the salient common ground of issues related to engagement in physical activity, the program is designed to explore, compare, and contrast best practices in research and practice from each discipline. Benefits include synergistic solutions to common problems, graduates who transcend traditional professional silos to be more impactful, and the creation of innovative research endeavors. Graduates also find that they meet contemporary workforce needs outside of academia and are more marketable as faculty in kinesiology and health-related departments because of their rich, multidisciplinary knowledge base. Challenges to program implementation include prior student socialization from traditional studies in their disciplines and faculty working to move beyond their professional comfort zones to collaboratively mentor students in the program.
Barbara E. Ainsworth and Steven P. Hooker
The health-enhancing benefits of regular physical activity have been theorized for thousands of years. Within the past 25 years, public health agencies, health-related organizations, and health-focused foundations have recognized regular physical activity as a major factor in preventing premature morbidity and mortality. Colleges and universities have experienced a paradigm shift in applying public health strategies to prepare graduates in understanding how to reduce the impact of sedentary lifestyles on health outcomes. For nearly 20 years, some kinesiology departments have expanded from traditional curricula to new courses and degrees in promoting physical activity in the community, the application of epidemiology concepts to physical activity, and the study of policy and environmental approaches to promoting physical activity. Given the high prevalence of physical activity insufficient to prevent premature morbidity and mortality, continuing educational efforts are needed to assure kinesiology students have the skills and information needed to promote physical activity in communities to people of all ages and abilities.
Bradley J. Cardinal, Minsoo Kang, James L. Farnsworth II, and Gregory J. Welk
Kinesiology leaders were surveyed regarding their views of the (re)emergence of physical activity and public health. Their views were captured via a 25-item, online survey conducted in 2014. The survey focused on four areas: (a) types of affiliation with public health; (b) program options and course coverage; (c) outreach programming; and (d) perspectives on integration. Member and nonmember institutions of the American Kinesiology Association received the survey. Responses were received from 139 institutional leaders, resulting in an overall response rate of 21.4%. Key findings included that the combination of physical activity and public health was seen as both a stand-alone subdisciplinary area within kinesiology and also an area that has a great deal of potential for collaboration, the acquisition of external funding, and further strengthening of community outreach and engagement. The survey results are placed in historical context and interpreted with various caveats and limitations in mind.
Lisa G. Johnson and Birgitta L. Baker
Louisiana State University’s School of Kinesiology has partnered with the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Fitness Center in Baton Rouge, LA since 2003 offering our fitness studies concentration majors a unique service-learning experience. The center is located in a community with citizens battling many health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, with limited access and resources that promote a heathy lifestyle. Students enrolled in a senior capstone course work with the community members in the Sensational Seniors fitness program. This fitness program addresses some of those needs by providing a variety of group exercise sessions promoting overall health and longevity for the participants. Our students are able to apply theoretical concepts learned in lectures and laboratories to address public health concerns in a real-life setting. The students lead group fitness activities, monitor blood pressures, and disseminate appropriate and updated health and exercise information for the seniors.
Todd A. Gilson and Anthony Deldin
In the next 45 years it is estimated that individuals aged 65 and older will increase by 93% in the United States. This population will require a reexamination in thinking related to what retirement is and how seniors desire to maintain their quality of life. Thus, with this demographic shift, new career opportunities will be available for students in older adult fitness, and kinesiology graduates can be at the forefront of providing physical activity to promote public health. Through the exploration of an off-campus clinical exercise gerontology experience at Northern Illinois University, specifics of the program and potential barriers are discussed, with an eye toward assisting other institutions that wish to begin/enhance a similar program. Finally, benefits and future opportunities are highlighted showing how this partnership has led to an improved quality of life for seniors and strengthened relationships with the larger community.
Patty Freedson, David M. Buchner, Russ Pate, Brad Hatfield, Loretta DiPietro, David A. Dzewaltowski, Tim Gavin, and Jeff Nessler
This paper provides an overview of several university programs that have integrated various aspects of public health into their kinesiology instruction, research, and outreach efforts. The summaries of these programs provide the historical context that shows the various stages of transformation of their kinesiology and exercise science programs over the last century. Examples of specific academic structural designs and curricula are described, as well as the rationale the faculty used to justify these programs. In addition, advantages, opportunities, and challenges of this integration are highlighted.
Gregory J. Welk and Duane Knudson
David A. Dzewaltowski, Mary McElroy, Timothy I. Musch, David C. Poole, and Craig A. Harms
Kinesiology is an academic discipline with a body of content that can be drawn on to support professions and to solve important public health problems. The Kansas State Physical Activity Systems Framework defines a new approach to structure the discipline. Central to the framework is the rejection of a kinesiology subdisciplinary approach and the adoption of an integrated “cell-to-society” systems approach. Each level of physical activity systems is addressed in undergraduate and graduate education and research. Supporting the framework are two research and education teams: exercise physiology and exercise behavioral science. These teams provide core integrated academic discipline content expertise and expertise for integrating professional application areas, such as public health. The framework has evolved over 20 years at Kansas State University, where today the Department of Kinesiology delivers high-quality extramurally-funded research; BS, MS, MPH, and PhD programs; and outreach in a cost-effective manner.
Danielle D. Wadsworth, Mary E. Rudisill, Jared A. Russell, James R. McDonald, and David D. Pascoe
The School of Kinesiology at Auburn University unites teaching, research, and outreach efforts to provide access to physical activity for local, statewide, and global communities. This paper provides a brief overview of the programs as well as strategies to mobilize efforts for physical activity outreach within an academic setting. School-wide efforts include youth initiatives, physical activity assessments offered through our TigerFit program, and the United States Olympic Team Handball training center. All programs provide service-learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students as well as outreach outcomes. Furthermore, the programs provide a platform for scholarship in the form of publications, partnerships for grant submissions, and student research projects. Merging teaching, outreach, and scholarship has provided longevity for the programs, thereby establishing long-term social ties to the community and providing continued access to physical activity to promote public health.