Exercise Physiologist Careers

Overview

Exercise physiology is the systematic study of how varying exercise conditions affect the human body, mentally, physically and physiologically. It is a popular field in the medical and sports industry and many athletes, sportsmen and individuals rely on it for treatment, advancement and recovery.

One of the many professions that fall under the umbrella of Allied Health Professions is that of an exercise physiologist. An exercise physiologist is generally concerned with improving the functions of the human body through exercise programs. They use the benefits of exercise to help clients or patients improve their health or deal with injuries, medical conditions and such.

An exercise physiologist differs from a personal trainer and physical therapist by way of qualification, expertise and training. Though similar in many aspects, it is the academic background and training that sets exercise physiologists apart.

Education Requirements

Since this is a field of medicine and science, a great deal of emphasis is given to education requirements and academic standards. This is because the industry of exercise physiology and its stakeholders demand a standard of excellence and nothing but the best from all candidates entering the field.

At the very basic, a student must possess a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from a reputable institute. Here the student will learn the basics such as kinesiology, physiology, biology, mechanics, exercise science, and so on. The next step is attaining a master’s degree in exercise physiology or a related exercise science major. In such a degree program, the student will be given the opportunity to delve further into courses such as neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems. You may have the opportunity to complete a thesis or sign up for an internship.

If you wish to further expand your career possibilities, conduct research or take up teaching, you will need to successfully complete a doctoral program in exercise physiology. For information on certification and licensure you should consult with the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (asep.org). There will be a written exam which you will need to clear to earn certification. Visit the website for information pertaining to testing, courses and schedules.

Job Duties

The job duties of an exercise physiologist depend on the clientele size, office standards and educational background. Whether the exercise physiologist is in a private or public practice also influences the scope of duties. However, listed below you will find some generic and common job duties that most exercise physiologists would have to perform.

  • Interview patient and conduct research that is relevant to the patient’s health, exercise program and goals. Patient’s history is to be conducted as well
  • Conduct preliminary tests on patients that determine their initial physiological health. The results must be documented.
  • Conduct physical examinations, x-rays and stress tests on patients to determine their baseline level of fitness
  • Develop each patient’s file and archive it to serve as future reference
  • Perform routine tests on patients to track their progress. This requires careful observation and analysis
  • Devise exercise programs for patients that are specific to their needs and requirements. Tailoring and customizing an exercise program for patients is an important task
  • Give patients demonstrations on the safe and proper use of exercise equipment and procedure
  • Perform routine basic blood tests on patients that tests glucose, red blood cells, cholesterol and other variables pertaining to their health and fitness
  • Closely monitor patients during exercise and fitness tests to ensure compliance and safety
  • Ensure that the office equipment and laboratory equipment are well maintained and inventoried
  • Educate and enlighten patients on the benefits and importance of exercising regularly
  • Consult with physicians and coaches to understand the patient and to develop better and more effective exercise programs
  • Remain up to date with the latest trends, methodologies and researches pertaining to the field of exercise physiology

Career Outlook

Broadly speaking a student of exercise physiology can travel two paths – clinical and applied exercise physiology. Clinical exercise physiology takes the path of rehabilitative and therapeutic exercise physiology that deals in helping patients cope with injuries and preventing them from occurring again. Whereas applied exercise physiology involves athletic fitness, endurance and performance development for athletes.

As communities and individuals have realized the importance of exercise and its link to keeping healthy and preventing health issues, there has been an increase in the demand for fitness experts and professionals to guide them. Keeping this in mind, the industry for exercise physiologists is expected to increase in hospitals, gyms, clinics, health centers and sports facilities.

Salary Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), the average annual salary for exercise physiologists is about $44,770 which translates to $21.53 hourly. As you gain market knowledge and experience with working with a number of different patients, you may enjoy great earnings as companies recognize your worth and value. Experience and success stories are important.

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