If you find yourself constantly encouraging loved ones to eat right and exercise, a career in nutrition or fitness might be a good fit for you. Fitness and nutrition professionals are involved in various aspects of promoting public health and wellness. Fitness professionals like personal trainers and group exercise instructors help people improve their physical fitness. Nutritionists and dietitians educate people about the importance of proper nutrition and help those with special dietary needs develop a suitable menu. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most positions in fitness and nutrition require candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in physical education, exercise science, nutrition, food service systems or a closely related area.
Physical Education Degree
Getting a bachelor’s degree in physical education will prepare you to teach physical education courses in schools, to instruct group exercise classes, to serve as a personal trainer or to coach team sports. Some programs let you specialize in a specific sport or activity like aerobics or weight training. A physical education degree program will give you the skills you need to help motivate others to stay fit. Common courses include biomechanics, health and physical fitness for special needs individuals.
Exercise Science Degree
An exercise science degree program will prepare you for a career in exercise instruction, exercise program development or research. Exercise science involves the study of the mechanics of human movement and the functioning of human body systems. You will discover how exercise affects the body and helps in the rehabilitation of injured muscles. You will also learn how to design and develop effective exercise programs, how to implement injury prevention techniques and how to measure an individual’s fitness level. Common courses include exercise physiology, anatomy and first aid.
Getting a bachelor's degree in nutrition will enable you to work as a nutritionist or dietitian in hospitals, nursing homes, public health clinics, schools and home health agencies. Nutrition degree programs are designed to give students an in-depth look at the nutritional content of different foods, the nutritional requirements of the human body, the impact of various food preparation techniques, the relationship between nutrition and disease and the effects of public nutrition concerns such as obesity. You will learn how to help patients select and prepare foods that meet their nutritional needs and how to design and develop effective nutrition education programs. Common courses include chemistry, biology and nutrition.
Food Service Systems Degree
With a bachelor’s degree in food service systems, you can work to ensure that all food made available to the public in food-related establishments like restaurants and fast-food places is properly prepared, safely stored and accurately labeled. You will learn about the relationship between consumers and food, and about safety concerns related to the different materials and techniques used for food packaging. Some programs will let you specialize in a specific area such as food packaging, food systems management or food distribution. Common courses include nutrition, chemistry, marketing and communications and food safety.