Students majoring in kinesiology-exercise science at the University of Kentucky often begin their program with a course that provides a brief history of physical activity and an introduction to modern issues in sport. In the years Dr. Jill Day has been teaching it, she has never found a textbook spanning the variety of topics she covers, so she has written her own.
“I never thought I would write a textbook, but when I was contacted by the publisher, I thought I might as well create something I can use and will be beneficial to students,” Day said. “The book is very interactive and covers what I want my students to know and get out of the class.”
Exercise science majors, based in the UK College of Education Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, pursue a variety of careers in areas such as physical therapy, personal training, sports administration, pharmacy, and biomechanics, to name only a few. The program is foundational for a variety of fitness and clinical careers because it helps students understand the mechanisms underlying human movement, exercise, and physical activity.
Students take science-based courses in health and wellness as well as performance-based activity courses. They gain a foundation for their major through Day’s History and Philosophy of Physical Education and Sport, which is also taken by students pursuing a physical education teaching career.
“We go chronologically, starting with physical activity among Native Americans,” Day said. “We talk about how physical activity was mostly used for survival. And we discuss how that changed with the arrival of Puritans from England and evolved to today’s use of it as entertainment and for survival and health. Then, we address more modern things. There are chapters on the present state of college sports, youth sports, gender and sports, obesity in kids, and fitness principles. It is almost a preview of other classes students will take.”
Day, who is originally from Manchester, Ky., earned her Ph.D. at UK in 2009. For her doctoral dissertation, she collected data to correlate physical activity, body composition, and academic performance in 4th and 5th grade students living in areas close to her hometown in Eastern Kentucky.
“Anything we can do to encourage people to be involved in physical activity for their lifespan is a great thing,” Day said. “In older adults, the social and mental benefits are endless. I try to convey to students, you don’t have to be a star athlete, but you need to find something you enjoy and that is sustainable.”
Day embraces her role in supporting students in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion. She enjoys being part of a group of faculty who provide a sense of community that is supportive of students’ dreams, linking them to a variety of careers they may not have originally considered.
Becoming a university lecturer was not a career on Day’s radar. She had been accepted into UK’s physical therapy school when she got a call from a former professor asking if she would teach a couple of classes at Eastern Kentucky University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Day agreed to drive to Richmond to teach while also enrolled in a class at UK.
“I found I liked the interaction with students and helping drive their discussions,” Day said. “It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made, but I decided to not go to physical therapy school and started working on my master’s to pursue a teaching career. I use that experience in my life when talking with students. I let them see sometimes you veer off in a different direction than you thought you would, but ultimately end up where you’re supposed to be.”
Introductory Principles of Sport and Physical Education was published by Great River Learning. It is an e-book, so Day has the ability to add information over time. To learn more about programs offered by the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, visit https://education.uky.edu/khp/.