What is an Exercise Physiologist?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2019
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An exercise physiologist is someone who has studied the physiological components of exercise, for the purpose of applying this knowledge to increasing health and fitness. A great deal of human physiology is involved in exercise, from the cardiovascular system to the musculoskeletal system, and an exercise physiologist has studied these systems in both healthy and sick individuals. These health professionals can help people get fit, maintain a level of fitness, or recover from serious injuries, utilizing a variety of techniques to make exercise effective and healthy.

In order to become an exercise physiologist, it is necessary to obtain a bachelor's degree from a college or university which offers an exercise physiology program. Many nations have professional organizations of exercise physiologists which certify people in this field, and provide a list of accredited programs which they have approved. The program of study includes anatomy, physiology, and related topics.

For people who are interested in becoming fit, working with an exercise physiologist can be very useful, as the exercise physiologist can perform a complete assessment, talk about goals, and develop an exercise program which is tailored to the body and its needs. Gymnasiums and health clubs sometimes employ exercise physiologists for this purpose, and it is also possible to visit exercise physiologists who work out of their own offices and clinics.


Professional athletes also rely on exercise physiologists to help them keep their bodies in peak condition. An exercise physiologist knows an athlete's body well, and also understands the unique demands of the sport. He or she can use this information to assess the athlete, monitor progress, and provide suggestions which will keep the athlete performing well and prevent injuries.

Exercise physiologists also work in clinical settings, providing rehabilitation to patients with cardiovascular issues, pulmonary problems, and other issues, such as recent physical trauma from an accident. Rehabilitative care can include building the body back up to its former level of fitness, or helping a patient make lifestyle adjustments which will help him or her cope with a disability. For example, an exercise physiologist can help a patient with severe arthritis so that he or she can develop more freedom of movement.

Excellent communications skills are important for people in this field, as exercise physiologists have to work with a wide range of clients, and they need to be able to effectively convey information. It also helps to have an interest in fitness.



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