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Kinesiology studies how the principles of mechanics and anatomy affect human movement. The word kinesio is derived from the Greek work kinesis, meaning motion. Kinesiology literally means the study of motion, or motion therapy. Kinesiology is based on the idea that physical education is a science.

Scientists throughout the centuries have studied how the body works: how muscles are connected, how bones grow, how blood flows. Kinesiology builds on all that knowledge. The practice of kinesiology developed during World War II, when physicians in military hospitals saw that appropriate exercise could help wounded patients heal faster and with better results than they had before. This exercise therapy proved particularly useful for injuries to the arms and legs.

By 1946, Veterans Administration hospitals were using prescribed exercise programs in rehabilitation treatment. Before long, other hospitals and clinics recognized the benefits of kinesiology and instituted similar programs. Within a few years the new therapy was an important part of many treatment programs, including programs for chronically disabled patients.

In the 1950s, a number of studies indicated that European children were more physically fit than American children were. To decrease the gap in fitness levels, the U.S. government instituted physical fitness programs in schools. This practical application of kinesiology to otherwise healthy children boosted the field dramatically.

Today, the study of physical fitness and the movement of the body are illustrated in countless fields. Although kinesiologists have historically worked with injured or disabled patients, as humans move toward a more computerized, less active lifestyle, kinesiologists and other health care professionals will be in higher demand to help people of all abilities maintain good health and fitness.

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