What is an Exercise Physiologist?
It is true that exercise physiologists are much more than your personal trainers or gym instructors.
Much like the other allied health services, an exercise physiologist is a health professional. He/she has acquired an extensive tertiary education about the human body as well as in-depth training in the body’s responses to exercise. In fact, unlike a personal trainer, an exercise physiologist needs to study certain medical courses for four to six years to attain a Bachelor’s Degree alone. If they want to go to help treat patients with heart and vascular diseases, they need to study cardiac rehabilitation in order to get a Master’s Degree.
Just what are the courses that exercise physiologists are required to study in a university?
- Exercise physiology
- Exercise physiology research
- Exercise testing and prescription
- Sports nutrition
- Statistics and statistical interpretation
- Cardiac rehabilitation
- ECG interpretation
Much like doctors, exercise physiologists need to undergo internship first and then get board certified by taking the exam that is being given by the American Society of Exercise Physiology, the American College of Sports Medicine, or similar accrediting organizations in their respective countries. They also need to keep up to date with the latest advancements and trends in the field through continuing education courses.
What An Exercise Physiologist Does
An exercise physiologist analyzes the current physical fitness levels of their clients/patients. Especially if a patient is suffering from a chronic illness, like diabetes or heart disease, or had an injury, the exercise physiologist works to increase the patient’s functional capabilities and improve the quality of their lives for the long term through the right exercise and diet program.
They can also assist physically fit clients to meet specific health goals, such as achieving their desired bodies or boosting athletic performance through a customized exercise plan. With this role, it certainly is no wonder that exercise physiologists are often mistaken for personal trainers.
Take note though that personal trainers do not possess the exercise physiologist’s expertise in administering and analyzing stress tests, ECGs, and other medical evaluation tools. While most personal trainers still need to refer their clients to a nutritionist or a dietician, exercise physiologists can already come up with a suitable diet plan based on their patients’ health needs and goals. Overall, an exercise physiologist can devise a fitness plan that builds physical strength and endurance, improves flexibility, and boosts cardiovascular function and metabolism to promote healing and better health.
Exercise Physiologist Jobs
While being an exercise physiologist is a job in itself, you can see them working in other positions and hold other work titles as well. Among the exercise physiologist jobs are the following:
- Sports medicine and athletic training advisors, especially for the purpose of reducing the frequency of injuries and promoting faster healing in both amateur and professional athletes
- Assist athletic equipment companies in designing sports gear
- Athletic performance or sports consultants or directors
- Wellness directors
- Personal coaches
- Exercise program managers or coordinators
- Rehabilitation specialists