Fitness & Nutrition Degrees

If you love fitness and nutrition, why not make it a career? People are bound to succeed when they do what they love. There are plenty of career paths to choose from. The trick is finding the right degree for the field that you want to get into.

Sports Nutrition

Sports nutrition is great if you have an affinity for sports or have been an athlete. This type of degree teaches students about the demanding systems of different types of athletes and the type of nutrition they need.

Basic Nutrition

There are degrees in sports nutrition or just nutrition. Basic nutrition covers the nutritional needs of all types of people–of all ages and health types–and provides training to become nutritionists, dietitians and related fields.

Health and Exercise Science

Health and exercise science involves the way health and exercise relate to each other. Good health is hard to have without some degree of exercise, so it is important to have a good handle on this before attempting to work in any related field. Students learn about nutrition, injury prevention, personal training and other subjects related to health and fitness.

Exercise Physiology

Exercise physiology is often offered at a graduate level. It covers metabolism, injury prevention, and research in the field of health and fitness. Biochemistry, nutrition and biology are just a few of the subjects exercise physiology majors need to take.


Kinesiology degrees are for people who want to work behind the scenes in the field of fitness and nutrition. This is the study of the body in motion, and relates to just about every facet of sports, fitness, and health and nutrition.

What Is the Difference Between a Personal Trainer & a Fitness Trainer?

Personal trainers and health fitness specialists and trainers are professionals who have extensive training in exercise science and physiology. They work with individuals to educate them about, and motivate them to begin and continue, healthy habits that will improve their health and fitness. There are many certifying organizations that test and recognize personal trainers and health fitness specialists. Courses and training can be found worldwide.

Role of a Personal Trainer

Personal trainers work with both healthy individuals and people who have special considerations for exercise, such as those who have suffered an injury or a stroke. Certified personal trainers develop, demonstrate and supervise healthy exercise routines based on their exercise science training. Sometimes, personal trainers will work with a small group of individuals who are at similar fitness levels and have similar health goals.

Role of a Health Fitness Trainer

Health fitness trainers, also called health fitness specialists, can be found at universities, hospitals, gyms and community centers. They are professionals with degrees who also hold a certification in health fitness. Health fitness specialists conduct pre-exercise screening and risk stratification for those who want to exercise or are prescribed an exercise regimen. They also work with communities and individuals who need to adopt and maintain healthy habits in order to reduce the effects of diseases such as diabetes.

Requirements for Personal Training Certification

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, which first began certifying personal trainers and fitness trainers in 1954, you must be 18 years of age or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent to take the certification test to become an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. A current adult CPR certification with a practical skills component will be required.

Requirements for Health Fitness Trainer Certification

If you are testing to become an ACSM Certified Health Fitness Trainer, you must meet all requirements for a personal trainer. In addition, you must also hold a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field, or be in your last semester of earning one.


A health fitness specialist will prescribe a general set of exercises to an individual to accomplish heath and fitness-related goals such as rehabilitating injured limbs or reducing weight. A personal trainer will then create a routine for the client, and work out with him in order to ensure safety and motivate further fitness. After seeing improvement in the health and fitness of the client, the personal trainer may refer him back to the health fitness trainer for reevaluation of his needs and perhaps to have another set of exercises or further training prescribed.

How to Own Your Own Gym Fitness Health Center

The fitness and health club industry is attractive for potential investors because there were 261,000 fitness workers in the United States as of 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and that figure is expected to grow 20 percent by 2018. Owning a fitness health center, like any other business venture, requires careful financial planning, effective marketing and a willingness to investigate the best locales for establishing the business.

Assess your ownership options. You can build a new gym, purchase an existing gym, expand another type of business to include a gym or join a fitness franchise (see Resources). Choose the option that best fits your purpose and financial means. You may wish to consult an accountant and an attorney to help you understand the legal and financial consequences of each option.

Write a business plan. Your plan must address how you will finance the facility; the type of fitness personnel you will hire (personal trainers, on-staff nurse, massage therapists); the legal structure (corporation or limited liability company); suppliers for gym equipment; and the building or structure that will house the gym.

Comply with legal requirements. Legally establish your entity and register with the secretary of state where the gym will operate, obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (see Resources), purchase insurance to cover liability for injuries to patrons and comply with local and state health and safety inspections and regulations.

Purchase equipment and lease or buy a locale. If you are not purchasing an existing business or franchise, you will need to purchase the treadmills, stationary and spinning bikes, weight machines and other gym equipment. You will also need to lease or purchase the building or build a new structure (or remodel and expand an existing structure) for your gym.

Establish a marketing plan that focuses on the membership prices and services offered. Health and fitness centers are membership-driven; therefore, you must develop a sound strategy to market your gym and have a price structure sufficiently competitive to attract clients. Check with comparable competitors in your region regarding membership and determine what types of classes (aerobic, weightlifting, spinning, swimming) and other fitness services (massage therapy, personal training) you will offer at your gym.

Hire personnel. First be sure to develop employee job descriptions and an employee handbook, as well as a record keeping system for both gym membership and for employee-related matters.

Open for business. Plan a widely-advertised grand opening that will permit prospective members to view and use the facilities. Give one-day, free passes to join classes or use the gym; and offer family discounts.

How Does Nutrition Affect Fitness?

Whether your fitness goals are to improve strength, run faster or lose weight, you need to pay attention to your diet. What you eat not only affects the numbers on the scale, but also how your body responds to your workout. For better fitness, eat a diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods and creates a healthy balance of carbs, protein and fat.

Carbs for Energy

While low-carb diets are popular for weight loss, they are not the way to go when trying to improve fitness. Carbs provide your muscles with the energy they need to run, stair climb and lift weights. Nutrient-rich, high-carb foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and low-fat milk products. Depending on your fitness goals, you should get 2.7 grams to 4.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds you need 405 grams to 675 grams of carbs a day.

Protein for Muscle Repair and Growth

When it comes to protein, more is not always better for the fitness enthusiast. Your body needs protein to repair and grow the muscles you just worked out. Getting more protein than your body needs does not mean bigger muscle gains and may lower your energy levels. Protein needs depend on the amount and type of exercise you do, ranging from 0.5 gram to 0.8 gram per day, or 75 grams to 120 grams for a 150-pound person. Poultry, seafood, lean red meat, low-fat dairy, eggs and soy foods are all high-quality sources of protein.

Fat for Health and Energy

When it comes to fitness, your body needs fat, just not too much. Fat provides energy for your workout and is also a source of fat-soluble vitamins, as well as essential fatty-acids. To maximize fitness and performance, 20 to 35 percent of your calories should come from fat. You can meet your daily fat needs and improve the nutritional quality of your diet by including healthy sources such as fatty fish like salmon, olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and tofu.

Meal Planning Tips

To keep energy levels up, eat regularly throughout the day, and include a source of protein and a fruit or vegetable at each meal and snack to maximize nutritional intake. Before you exercise, eat a low-fat, high-carb snack such as a low-fat yogurt or a banana to fuel your muscles. To replenish and promote muscle repair, eat a carb and protein snack after your workout such as a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread or low-fat chocolate milk.

How Does Diet Affect Cardiovascular Strength and Health?

Cardiovascular Disease Defined

One of the top killers in America is cardiovascular disease, or disease related to the blood vessels of your heart. There are many types of cardiovascular diseases that are responsible for death. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for more American deaths than cancer. It is a wonder that so many people die from cardiovascular disease, yet for many the chances of dying from it could have been reduced by two things: diet and exercise.

The heart’s arteries are the vessels that carry blood to the body, while the veins make the return trip. Arteries and veins need oxygen and a clear path to perform their circulatory function. If there is anything that impedes their paths or causes the vessels’ walls to harden, the heart must pump harder and harder to get the blood going, creating unnecessary strain. With coronary heart disease, the leading cause of heart attacks, plaque forms along the cardiovascular walls and restricts the blood flow. The heart becomes overtaxed and some parts fail, causing a heart attack. So how does this deadly plaque form? It can be from the foods that you eat.

Plaque and Cardiovascular Health

When you eat foods high in saturated fat, you introduce harmful lipids and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) to the blood. Those lipids and cholesterol tear at your arteries. White blood cells try to get rid of the lipids. Unfortunately, platelets try to help by causing a “clot,” thinking the body is losing blood from the tear. When the platelets, white blood cells, LDL and lipids get together along with those torn artery muscle fibers, they form plaque. Over time this plaque builds up to the point where your heart is strained.

Good Heart Foods

Although saturated fats are part of a diet that can negatively affect cardiovascular health, there are healthful foods that can put a positive spin on your heart’s vessels. Research shows that dark chocolates, nuts and wines are foods that reduce LDL. Consuming foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids are another great way to keep your blood vessels in shape. Foods that contain Omega-3-like fatty fish- introduce acids that reduce fats in the blood vessels. Canola oil, soy foods and leafy greens also contain good Omega-3 levels. Although it is suggested that raising your good cholesterol (HDL) fights cardiovascular disease, there is no actual foods that have been scientifically proven to raise HDL.

With a combination of moderate exercise and a good diet, you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim to one of America’s top killers.