We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Physical Education Movement

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

In 1845 the book Physical Education and Preservation of Health, written by a Harvard Medical School physician named John Warren, helped generate a new focus on the workings of the human body. The main ideas of this movement centered around improving and maintaining general health. This was achieved through John Warren’s ideas of following the laws of nature as well as the use of “friendly” things and avoidance of “noxious” things. (Berryman 2) The importance of this event is that although somewhat primitive, this was the first idea of humans generating ideas to improve their health. Also, this event led to the creation of the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education, which was the first professional group for the purpose of “physical education”.

1880’s the American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education

The American Association for the Advancement of Physical Education was a group of medical doctors who banded together to form one of the first professional groups centered around ideas of physical education. Most of the members were faculty from esteemed medical universities like John’s Hopkins, Yale and Harvard. These doctors did things like taking measurements of the body, directed exercise programs, lectured, and oversaw the construction of new gyms on college campuses. This professional organization of doctors helped to bring concepts of physical education to the mainstream, leading to the creation of many medical programs and the basis for the development of the field of exercise science. This groups work also played a part in all states requiring some form of instruction in the field of physical education. (Berryman 3)

1880, Louis Ranvier

Louis Ranvier was a French scientist known for his studies in minute anatomy. He is mostly known for his work in nerve structure however he also performed studies in other areas. In 1880 he discovered the difference in contraction speeds between red and white muscle fibers. He observed the vascular tissue or red fibers having a much faster contractile speed than the avascular tissue or white fibers. Through this discovery Ranvier’s research helped to further the fields of anatomy and kinesiology, especially if you consider the divide and strength vs. endurance training today.

1889, Christian Wilhelm Braune and Otto Fischer

The studies of these two men led to great advancements within the field of kinesiology. Two of particular importance were their study of the human gait and their study of determining the body’s center of gravity. The basis of this study was that to understand the forces of resistance on individual muscles of the human body, the center of gravity of the body needs to be known. (History of Biomechanics) These studies would be built upon by future researchers and greatly contributed to advancement of the study of the mechanics of the human body.

Adolf Eugen Fick (1829 – 1901) Wilhelm Roux (1850 – 1924)

Adolf E. Fick and Wilhelm Roux studied the mechanics and physiology of muscle, leading to many progressions in knowledge of muscle hypertrophy. Fick was known for his study of the mechanics of muscle contraction, coining common terms such as isotonic and isometric. On the other hand, Roux is known for his contributions to the study of muscle hypertrophy, identifying the fact that when a muscle increases in size its not the number of fibers that increase but the size of its fibers. (History of Biomechanics) The concepts that these men identified are still used in modern kinesiology. You can see the results of their research in modern nutrition as well as strength and conditioning programs.


Early 1900’s Reform of American Medicine

With the advancement of scientific research in the early 1900’s the field of medicine in America changed as well. The basis of medicine moved from large invasive, damaging procedures to less invasive procedures based on research. (Berryman 3) Additionally, the development of germ theory and drugs helped develop new methodology for medicine that revolved around curing rather than preventing diseases. This led to the American Medical Association gaining influence and recognizing that the current standard of training for physicians in colleges was sub-par. They wielded this influence and created a more detailed curriculum, residency programs, and the separation of doctors by specialization. The consequence of this was that the focus shifted away from exercise in the medical field as it became less lucrative to pursue a career in physical education. (Berryman 3)

Early 1900’s, Shift towards Games and Sports

The early 1900’s experienced a shift from physical education mainly focusing around improving health to focusing more on games and sportsmanship. One of the main factors in this shift was the invention of basketball. Basketball required a gymnasium to play and with the rapid growth of the sport, many gymnasiums were constructed to account for the growing interest. The field of physical education shifted from physicians and doctors to coaches and specialists in popular sports like basketball, baseball, tennis and track. This shift towards the importance of sports also created a need for a competitive league which lead to the creation of prominent sports associations such as the YMCA, and the NBA, which still exist today. (Berryman 3)

1914-1918, World War I

World War 1 was a time in which a large portion of the United States’ population of young men was drafted into the military. Arguably the most important aspect of the military is physical fitness, so when over a third of the men drafted into service were rejected due to not meeting the physical fitness standards, changes needed to be made. (Berryman 4) These changes consisted of the implementation of mandatory physical education programs in schools across the nation. These programs helped further legitimize kinesiology as a field by increasing the demand for, and therefore creating, knowledgeable practitioners of physical education.

1925, Electromyography

Electromyography is a process in which needles are inserted into a muscle to measure the level of electrical stimulation. The invention of this process revolutionized kinesiology as the exact amount of muscular activation could be determined throughout a range of motion. This dispelled a lot of prior concepts regarding the workings of muscle action. The individual responsible for bringing electromyographic techniques to the field of kinesiology, E.B. Adrian, won a Nobel prize for his studies on the contraction and actions of muscles. The implementation of electromyography allowed scientists to study the action of muscles in a scientific and highly detailed manner that wasn’t previously possible.

1939-1945, World War II

The second world war had a similar effect on kinesiology as World War I. Americans had discovered that their citizens were comparatively less fit than other European countries. (Berryman 4) With the scale of World War II and the large numbers of soldiers needed for the military the problem of physical fitness needed to be revisited. This again led to the federal government’s intervention with the implementation of the President’s Council on Youth Fitness. The President’s Council on Youth Fitness later became the modern President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, a U.S. government agency that works to promote sports, nutrition and physical fitness within the public.


1947-1991, The Cold War

The Cold War was a period of political tension between the Soviet Union and the United States. The difference in ideologies and politics also leaked into the realm of sport. Sports became a point of contention between the two superpowers with both countries vying for athletic superiority. Both sides funneled huge amounts of money and resources into scientific advancement seeking to find even a small edge. The nature of this competition led to huge advancements in all aspects of science and research but were especially prominent regarding the study of the human body.

1963, James Conant

James Conant was a notable critic of the state of physical education as an academic discipline in the early 1960s. His book The Education of American Teachers critiqued the lack of education among faculty, the focus on methods of sport instead of academic research and the existence of undergraduate courses in the methods of basketball and football. He’s also known for his statements regarding the graduate programs in physical education stating that ‘‘To my mind, a university should cancel graduate programs in this area’’. (Berryman 4) His status as an exemplary educator and former president of Harvard University gave his opinions major credibility among academics. This credibility combined with his scathing comments helped kick off reforms within the field of kinesiology that would later help establish it as a relevant academic discipline.

1964, Franklin Henry

Franklin Henry was a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, he was a main proponent of the idea that physical education should be an academic discipline. His book Physical Education: An Academic Discipline was a driving force behind a number of reforms that took place within universities in the 1960’s. (Berryman 4) Changes that can be attributed to these reforms are curriculum reforms, higher admissions standards, and a move to an emphasis on research. Additionally, Henry’s book unified academics within the field and began the search for a proper field of study. This search directly led to the creation of fields like kinesiology, and exercise science.

1960s and 70s, Specialization Within Kinesiology

The period between the 60s and 70s was a defining moment of the modern field of kinesiology. In modern academia kinesiology is a broad discipline covering many different fields of study. During this time period certain fields established themselves within the discipline. Fields such as biomechanics, sport psychology, sport history, exercise physiology and motor mechanics were all established within this time frame. (Shultz 47) With time these subdisciplines established their own academic organizations as well as their own research and publications. This increase in specialization helped create new knowledge in the form of texts and journals and other publications. This specialization also helped the field garner respect compared to previously when it was widely criticized for being unacademic and too focused on the practices of sport and competition.

1970s-80s, Health Movement Becomes Mainstream

With the rise of research focusing on inactivity related ailments such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, exercising for health once again entered the mainstream. Exercise for cardiovascular health started rising in popularity, exercises such as jogging, cycling and aerobics were picked up by many members of the public. This shift in exercise towards health benefits culminated with a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed a direct link between inactivity and early death. (Berryman 5) The results of this movement paved the way for future studies also linking inactivity to unhealthiness as well as solidifying the idea of exercise as a crucial prevention to long term disease in the eyes of the medical community. 

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59