Byul Kim can offer living proof that exercise is the key to a long, healthy life: her 95-year-old grandfather, Chun-Gwang Lee.

It’s been only two years since the two stopped downhill skiing together in the rugged mountains along the 38th parallel dividing North and South Korea – trips that ultimately prompted Kim’s decision to leave Seoul and enroll in the Applied Exercise Physiology program at Teachers College.

The Olympics showed me that helping people makes me very happy. I wanted to do this for my whole life.

—Byul Kim

As a college sophomore studying sports medicine, Kim also enjoyed watching televised ski competitions with her grandfather – so much so that she volunteered to serve on a medical unit at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Assigned to the ice arena, she triaged minor injuries incurred by figure skaters, ice dancers and speed skaters, saw firsthand how three minutes of competition can either reward or destroy four years of intense preparation, and decided to pursue a career in exercise, physiology and kinesiology.

“The Olympics showed me that helping people makes me very happy,” said Kim. “I wanted to do this for my whole life.”

Byul Kim

ENDURING MOTIVATION Kim was inspired to choose a health career by a grandfather who went skiing with her into his 90s. (Photo courtesy of Byul Kim)

Working with elite athletes was exhilarating, but Kim is equally interested in improving the exercise habits of ordinary Koreans, college students in particular. At TC, she has found another mentor in Professor of Movement Sciences Carol Ewing Garber – though she still regularly calls her grandfather to update him on her progress. Down the road, perhaps after completing a physiology doctorate at TC, she plans to develop and implement policies to draw young people toward healthier lifestyles through physical fitness.

Exercise isn’t just for athletes – it’s for everyone. Even walking just 10 minutes a day absolutely helps.

—Byul Kim

Young Koreans, in Kim’s estimation, lag behind their American counterparts in recognizing the benefits of healthy eating and exercising regularly.

“Many don’t understand that exercise isn’t just for athletes – it’s for everyone,” she says. “Even walking just 10 minutes a day absolutely helps.”