Current Student: Ed.D. Sports Management

U.S. Navy Cmdr. David “Pete” Peterson first developed his interest in health and fitness as a competitive power lifter.

That interest has carried over into his Navy career where Peterson, who is currently earning his doctorate in Sports Management from the Academy, works as a Naval Aerospace/Operational Physiologist and serves as the director of the Aviation Survival Training Center in Paxtuxent River, Md.

During his more than 15 years of service, Peterson has served as a fitness leader and program manager and conducted several research studies in support of the Navy’s Physical Readiness Test (PRT) and Body Composition Analysis (BCA) programs.

One of those studies was recently published in Military Medicine and he had another article published in this month’s edition of the Strength and Conditioning Journal, which is published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

His work and research has led to presenting at the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC) conference the past two years, as well as participating in the first and second annual NSCA’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Military Fitness.

Peterson’s bachelor’s from Truman State University and master’s from University of Louisiana-Monroe are both in Exercise Physiology. He recently took a breather to talk to the Alumni Network about some of his research, his recent NSCA journal article and advice to others wanting to get into the health and fitness field.

Alumni Network: Tell us about some of the other research that you have been involved in.

Pete Peterson: While at OPNAV N135, I partnered with the Naval Health Research Center (NHRC) in San Diego, Calif., and the U.S. Naval Academy to validate new elliptical trainers and stationary bikes for use in the PRT. Additionally, we drafted a research proposal to incorporate a waist circumference measurement (at the umbilicus) requirement to the Navy’s BCA program in addition to the height/weight charts and 3-site circumference measurements to more accurately calculate a service member’s percent body fat. The proposal was meant to identify men and women with a waist circumference exceeding 40 in. and 36 in. (i.e., individuals that according to the National Institutes for Health are at the greatest risk for all-cause mortality) respectively that are currently ‘passing’ the Navy BCA program via the circumference measurement method.

AN: What was the impetus behind your recent article in the Strength and Conditioning Journal?

PP: The article was in response to the Mil Med article referenced previously. In short, in 2011 I partnered with the University of Memphis to conduct a beta test on nine different exercise modalities in an attempt to ‘modernize’ the current PRT. One of the exercises that we evaluated was the single-leg plank. However, due to concerns with the test-retest reliability, the plank was not recommended at that time as a viable replacement option for the curl-up. The article published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal addresses these concerns and provides recommendations for how the plank could effectively be implemented into the PRT.

AN: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps in the health and fitness field?

PP: Take the time to visit different schools and talk with current students and potential professors. Before enrolling in the Sports Academy doctoral program, I contacted several current and previous Academy students and asked them about their experience with the Academy and the program. In addition, I also drove to Daphne, Ala., and visited the Academy’s campus and met with several of the professors and faculty. I also did this with several other schools as well. This allowed me to make an informed decision as to which school and program was right for me.

AN: As a current student of the doctoral program, what is your favorite thing about the Academy so far?

PP: The flexibility. My desire is to teach undergraduate Exercise Physiology. Even though I am enrolled in a Sports Management program, several of the professors have allowed me to submit work (i.e., course projects and/or papers) that is geared more towards my specific area of interest. In fact, the article recently published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal was part of my class paper I submitted for my directed individualized study under the guidance and direction of Academy Distance Faculty Member and Former Chair of Sports Exercise Science Dr. Jordan Moon.

AN: Would you recommend the Academy to others?

PP: Absolutely. As I mentioned before, I looked into several other doctoral programs before enrolling into the Sport Management program at the Academy. Because I am still on active duty, I receive permanent change of station (PCS) orders every three years. As a result, the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ programs were not a viable option for me. Although the transition to a new duty station and job has been challenging, the process has been easy and seamless in regards to my experience at the Academy. Overall, I am extremely impressed and pleased with the education experience I have received thus far from the Academy.