Online course: Science of Exercise

Dates: any time

Duration: 10 hours

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 out of 2720 ratings (see total ranking of online courses here)

Participating countries: any country

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Organizer: University of Colorado Boulder at Coursera


  • FREE
  • $49 with sharable certificate

Science of Exercise

Learners who complete Science of Exercise will have an improved physiological understanding of how your body responds to exercise, and will be able to identify behaviors, choices, and environments that impact your health and training. You will explore a number of significant adjustments required by your body in order to properly respond to the physical stress of exercise, including changes in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, nutritional considerations, causes of muscle soreness & fatigue, and the effectiveness and dangers of performance enhancing drugs. Active learning assessments will challenge you to apply this new knowledge via nutrition logs, heart rate monitoring, calculations of your total daily caloric expenditure and body mass index (BMI). Finally, learners will examine the scientific evidence for the health benefits of exercise including the prevention and treatment of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity (weight loss), depression, and dementia.




WEEK 1: 2 hours to complete

The Energetics of Exercise

In this module you will learn about the various metabolic pathways (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) that are activated in order to supply the necessary energy required for the mechanical work of skeletal muscles during exercise. How these pathways are regulated, the methods for assessing the extent to which specific fuels are being utilized and the overall estimation of your metabolic rate will be addressed. Additionally, the importance of the chemical energy stored in ATP and its requirement for muscular work will be discussed.

1. Introduction to Exercise Science 4m
2. Principles in Exercise Physiology 8m
3. Calorimetry & Oxygen Consumption 6m
4. ATP & Muscular Work 9m
5. Carbohydrate Metabolism During Exercise 9m
6. Carbohydrate Metabolism Continued 7m
7. Fat Metabolism During Exercise 7m
8. Protein Metabolism During Exercise 7m

WEEK 2: 2 hours to complete

Physiological Systems During Exercise

In this module you will learn how a number of key physiological systems (muscular, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine and immune systems) are regulated during exercise to help maintain homeostasis. These adjustments are critical for exercise to continue for any significant duration. This will include: how the respiratory system adjusts during exercise to ensure proper oxygen delivery and carbon dioxide removal from active muscles; how the cardiovascular system responds to ensure adequate blood flow to various organs, including muscle, during exercise; how the endocrine system plays a major role in regulating key biochemical and physiological responses to exercise and; how exercise influences the immune system and your ability to fight infections.

1. Skeletal Muscle Structure & Function 9m
2. Respiratory System Responses to Exercise 10m
3. Cardiovascular System Responses to Exercise 7m
4. Cardiovascular System Continued 9m
5. Endocrine System Responses to Exercise 8m
6. Endocrine System Continued 7m
7. Immune System Responses to Exercise 10m

WEEK 3: 2 hours to complete

Exercise for Fitness & Performance

This module will teach you about the training guidelines needed to optimize your endurance and strength adaptations associated with a regular exercise program. Important nutritional requirements for both endurance and strength training will be addressed. The causes of both muscle soreness and fatigue will be explained. Finally, the effectiveness and mechanisms whereby performance enhancing drugs exert their effect will be covered.

1. Adaptations to Endurance Training 9m
2. Adaptations to Strength Training 10m
3. Nutritional Considerations for Exercise 11m
4. Causes of Muscle Fatigue 10m
5. Causes of Muscle Soreness 9m
6. Performance Enhancing Drugs 7m
7. Performance Enhancing Drugs Continued 10m

WEEK 4: 4 hours to complete

Exercise in Health, Wellness and Disease

In this module you will learn about the role of exercise as medicine in both the prevention and treatment of various diseases. This will include: the contribution of diet and exercise in weight control including the prevention and treatment of obesity; the many health benefits from participation in a regular exercise program related to major risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and cancer will be addressed. Finally, the benefits of exercise associated with healthy aging and brain function will be discussed.

1. Exercise is Medicine 9m
2. Diet, Exercise and Weight Control 10m
3. Exercise and Risk Factors for Heart Disease 9m
4. Exercise and Risk Factors for Diabetes 7m
5. Exercise and Risk Factors for Cancer 8m
6. Exercise and Successful Aging 9m
7. Exercise and Your Brain 9m