Dr. Larry Durstine, Distinguished Professor in the Arnold School of Public Health’s Department of Exercise Science (EXSC) at the University of South Carolina, has been elected to membership as an Active Fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology (NAK), due to his contributions to scholarship and leadership in the field. Dr. Durstine was recognized at the Academy’s 2016 annual meeting in Albuquerque, N.M. As one of the organization’s highest honors, NAK fellowship reinforces the inductees’ commitment to exercise science, kinesiology, and public health.
[Photo: Dr. Larry Durstine]
Though he originally had his sights set on being a high school teacher and coach, Dr. Durstine’s career goals shifted as he completed a bachelor’s degree in physical education at Malone College. He continued with his education (MA in Physical Education, University of Denver; PhD in Physical Education/Exercise Science, University of Toledo) as he gradually realized that he wanted to be a scientist.
“The doors that I wanted to open in coaching never opened, but the doors in research and chronic diseases and public health did open,” says Dr. Durstine of the career reflections he often shares with students. “There are a lot of doors that open, you look through them, and sometimes you go through and sometimes you don’t. I kept going through clinical exercise programming and ultimately public health.”
During his doctoral program, Dr. Durstine became involved with primary and secondary disease prevention/treatment with fitness and cardiac rehabilitation programming for individuals who had experienced cardiovascular disease and had heart attacks and/or open heart surgery. He also was mentored by leading experts in the field, such as Drs. Michael Pollock, Peter Raven, Larry Gettman, and Ken Cooper. “It was while working with these leaders that I really began to think about the connection between exercise and chronic disease management,” says Dr. Durstine. His research also focused on the relationship between physical activity, exercise, blood lipid/lipoproteins, and disease.
Dr. Durstine brought his growing expertise with him to the University of South Carolina in 1982 as an assistant professor and director of cardiac rehabilitation. There was already a strong group of exercise science researchers here at the university which included colleagues such as Professor Dr. Russell Pate, who happened to interview Durstine for his faculty appointment.
A few years later, Durstine collaborated with the American College of Sports Medicine and other leading scientists to write a book titled Exercise Management for Persons with Chronic Diseases and Disabilities. “At the time, we had good reason to believe that there were 25-30 diseases could be positively affected by exercise,” Dr. Durstine says. The fourth edition of the book was published in 2016, and it included nearly 60 diseases (e.g., diabetes, liver disease, muscular dystrophy, various types of cancer) that have been scientifically shown to benefit from physical activity and exercise.