Now that summer is in full swing, all but the most dedicated couch potatoes are playing on departmental softball teams, hitting the tennis courts, or laboring in the garden. For a growing number of scientists, however, exercise is more than a seasonal diversion-it's the focus of a thriving discipline that integrates molecular and cellular biology, physiology, nutrition, and behavioral sciences.

One important trend, not only in exercise science but also in physiology, is the integration of molecular and cellular approaches with more holistic studies. "What's really competitive and compelling is research that looks at the entire animal, whether it be a human or a rat, and then integrates that down to the cellular and even molecular level," says Charlotte Tate, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Houston and president of the Indianapolis-based American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). "For example, how does contractile activity in the muscle turn...

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