The term “Exercise Physiologist” describes professionals from within the field of exercise science who have specialised into either health and fitness or exercise rehabilitation streams. As knowledge in the area of physical conditioning and rehabilitation has increased, the evolution of specialists in various fields have become apparent. The development of a specialised area in the field of exercise science has only occurred in recent years.
AAESS defines the domain of an Exercise Physiologist as matching the immediate aspirations and needs of the client with appropriate exercise interventions, and developing strategies which promote and assist in interventions being undertaken regularly for a prolonged period of time. Interventions will rarely only involve physical activity and as a consequence the Exercise Physiologist does not practice in isolation but will collaborate with other recognised health practitioners.
An Exercise Physiologist is ideally suited to providing professional services in the area of exercise as a treatment strategy in physical rehabilitation, as a preventative strategy for disease prevention, and work hardening as part of establishing and sustaining functional independence.
AAESS has developed clear skills and competencies for Exercise Physiologists.
The Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology and Metabolism degree (in Washington State University) focuses on the effects of nutrition and exercise on human health. This unique program offers:
Classes integrating exercise science, human nutrition, biological sciences, and social and psychological sciences.
Hands-on experience with patients in state-of-the-art facilities and labs.
Worksite internships in Spokane (the largest medical hub between Seattle, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City), and other cities.
Faculty recognized for research, teaching, and clinical expertise.
Several factors distinguish the BS in Exercise Physiology and Metabolism degree from strictly exercise science or human nutrition degrees:
the program is the only bachelor's degree program in the United States which is both endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and accredited by the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
interdisciplinary examination of multiple influences on health: biological, nutritional, social/psychological, environmental, and clinical.
a unique perspective on how and why the human body responds to various exercise and nutritional stimuli.
experiential learning through laboratories, practicum, and a semester-long internship.
integrative curricular approach in contrast to programs that offer separate content within disciplines.
The program prepares students for successful and rewarding careers and job opportunities in:
Clinical programs in rehabilitation institutes, hospitals, and clinics
Cardiac, pulmonary, and renal rehabilitation
Community health centers
University and worksite wellness programs
Exercise and health promotion
Commercial fitness centers
Personal and sports specific training
Upon completion of the degree, students are eligible to take the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) exam to become a certified Exercise Specialist.
ExMet students with senior standing may opt to apply to the Coordinated Program in Dietetics. Upon completion of the Coordinated Program in Dietetics, students are eligible to take the Registration Examination for Dietitians through the American Dietetic Association to become a Registered Dietitian (RD) and the Exercise Specialist certification from the ACSM.
The Exercise Physiologist is an allied health professional who prescribes exercise programs, also for cardiac and pulmonary patients referred by a physician, and educates people about the benefits of exercise; the EP performs evaluation and assessment of cardiovascular and metabolic effects, as well as the mechanisms of exercise; EP studies acute and chronic physiological adaptation to physical activity, and helps active people and athletes to improve and maintain their health & fitness level or performance.
Many Exercise Physiologists might choose to devote their career to the study and research of diseases and chronic conditions to improve the health and quality of life of the general population. Nonetheless, the main focus of the study of exercise physiology remains the improvement of athletic performance.
The ASEP defines Exercise Physiology as "the identification of physiological mechanisms underlying physical activity, the comprehensive delivery of treatment services concerned with the analysis, improvement, and maintenance of health and fitness, rehabilitation of heart disease and other chronic diseases and/or disabilities, and the professional guidance and counsel of athletes and others interested in athletics, sports training, and human adaptability to acute and chronic exercise."
Most Exercise Physiologists hold a master's degree, and in many cases this is the minimum level of education required. However, depending on the job settings, an undergraduate degree might still be accepted. For those interested in cardiac rehabilitation a master's degree is a requirement. Accredited programs are offered by many universities and schools. Also a list of accredited academic institutions is available at the AESP web site.
In general, the educational programs for a degree in exercise physiology or exercise science should includes the following courses:
Human anatomy & physiology
Exercise testing & prescription
ECG interpretation & exercise testing
An internship program, in a clinical setting or at the school itself, is also part of the curriculum; this practical experience should help the students to improve their skills and knowledge for the profession.
As an health allied professional, the Exercise Physiologist must have a professional certification offered by a recognized organization.
The Center for Exercise Physiology (CEP), an independent professional organization, is responsible for accreditation of academic programs, board certification, and regulating the profession through title protection and licensure. Candidates must pass a written multiple-choice exam and a practical exam that evaluates the hands-on laboratory skills and knowledge within exercise physiology. In addition to the exam, EPCs must maintained continuing education credits (more info).
The ACSM's Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist is another well recognized high standard certification for Exercise Physiologists.
In Canada, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) has its Health & Fitness Program of certifications.
Job settings and responsibilities
Exercise Physiologists can find work in various type of settings such as colleges and universities, rehabilitation clinics, hospitals, sport and athletic programs, and health and fitness facilities.
They can be hired as sports and wellness program instructors and directors; teachers or academic researchers; managers and exercise leaders in corporate wellness programs; exercise specialists in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation programs; sports consultants in areas of biomechanics, metabolism, kinesiology, and nutrition.
In clinical settings, the Exercise Physiologists prescribe exercises for cardiac and pulmonary patients referred by a physician; conduct exercise programs for health maintenance, cardiac risk identification, and rehabilitation; in a corporate setting, the EP provides health and fitness evaluation, exercise prescription, and overall program management in spas, health clubs, or recreation centers; in sports medicine clinics, the EP helps in the prevention and rehabilitation of athletic injuries.
The salary of an Exercise Physiologist, as it is for most professionals in sports medicine, depends mostly on a variety of factors such as degree level, location, and certification. However, it has been evaluated that the salary might range from $25,000 to $75,000, with an average of $45,000.
Answered By: ♫ Chloe ♫ - 3/29/2007