University of Mississippi, Department of Health, Exercise Science & Recreation Management
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University of Mississippi, Department of Health, Exercise Science & Recreation Management

The Department of Health, Exercise Science & Recreation Management is housed in the School of Applied Sciences at the University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS. Other units within the School include the Departments of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, Communicative Sciences Disorders, Social Work and Legal Studies. The School was formed in 2001 and previously the department was housed in the School of Education. From an historical perspective a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education was initially offered in 1936 in the School of Education. The Department of Health and Physical Education was created in 1949 with graduate degrees in Health, Physical Education & Recreation added in 1955.

The department’s mission is to promote health and well-being through expansion and dissemination of knowledge and through the development of professional people who will deliver physical activity, leisure, health-related programs and conduct research into the underlying sciences supporting these practices. Our faculty, staff and students are committed to carrying out this mission for the flagship institution in the state of Mississippi.

Our undergraduate degree programs include a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Park & Recreation Management. The Exercise Science program enrolls over 500 majors with Park & Recreation Management housing nearly 100 majors with an additional 75 students declared as Minors in the College of Liberal Arts. The Park & Recreation Management program is accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation & Related Professions.

At the graduate level the department offers three Masters Degrees (Exercise Science, Health Promotion and Park & Recreation Management) and a Ph.D. in Health Promotion & Kinesiology. The Exercise Science program has two tracts–Exercise Physiology and Neuromechanics while the Ph.D. program offers two areas of emphasis- Exercise Science and Health Behavior and Promotion. Our three Master level programs currently serve approximately 45 students with an additional 11 Ph.D. students. About 18 graduate students are supported by Graduate Assistantships or external funding. Fourteen faculty (12 tenure track and 2 Instructors) serve the department with the majority (6) serving in Exercise Science. Three full time equivalent faculty serve in Park & Recreation Management with two full time equivalent faculty in Health Promotion. The majority of our tenure track faculty received their doctoral training in Southern or Southwestern schools (Auburn, Florida State, The University of Arkansas, The University of Georgia, The University of Texas and Ole Miss). In addition, two faculty received their degrees from Big 10 Universities (Ohio State and the University of Illinois).

Given the fact that Mississippi has led the nation in obesity status over the past several years, some of the faculty research over the past several years has focused on obesity related issues. Published works have included topics such as the role of policy and the built environment on children’s in-school physical activity in the Mississippi Delta, changes in physical activity and fitness following three months of home Wii fit use, the influence of body composition and youth throwing mechanics, a comparison of energy expenditure to walk or run a given distance in normal and overweight adults and plasma estradiol concentrations at rest and moderate exercise in obese and lean African-American and Caucasian women.

Five research laboratories are also housed in the department. Laboratories include Exercise Physiology, Blood Chemistry, Biomechanics, Body Composition & Bone Mineral and Motor Control. Over 5,000 square feet is dedicated to laboratory space. The department also is home to the Center for Health Behavior Research.

In regard to service learning projects, I would like to highlight two projects. Several HESRM faculty and students have been involved in a School and University projects to improve living conditions in San Mateo, Belize. Faculty and students from all 5 departments in the School of Applied Sciences have participated as well as faculty and students from the School of Engineering. The department has also sponsored a noon-time water aerobics seniors program for the past 22 years. Several research papers have been generated from these service learning projects.

Overall, the Department of Health, Exercise Science & Recreation Management at the University of Mississippi is strong and vibrant as we move further into the 21st century. Many of our former students are building excellent careers as Health Care Professionals, Recreational Specialists and Scholars. For additional information please contact Mark Loftin, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, 662-915-5526 or