What Is an Exercise Physiologist?

Exercise physiologists are fitness workers and rehabilitation specialists with focused training in the way the human body works when performing exercise. Read on to learn what an exercise physiologist does, what sort of training and education is required for a career in exercise physiology, and what sort of jobs are available. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Duties and Responsibilities

Exercise physiologists plan an exercise regimen for patients by using their knowledge of how different types of physical activity affect the body. They employ tools and medical equipment to find out the best way to help someone exercise. For example, an exercise physiologist might help someone with low lung capacity find exercises that require little oxygen. He or she might plan a workout for someone with weak legs that is designed specifically to help them develop those muscles.

Important Facts About Exercise Physiologists

Median Salary (2018) $49,270
Key Skills Compassion, decision making, interpersonal communication
Work Environment most work full time; Often required to work one-on-one with other physicians, clients, coaches and parents
Similar Occupations Athletic Trainers, Physical and Occupational Therapists, Recreational Therapists, Chiropractors, Physicians, Nutritionists and Dietitians

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and Training

The American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) suggests that exercise physiologists should have a college degree in exercise science, ideally from an ASEP-accredited program. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that a bachelor's degree is generally the minimum requirement for a job in this field, although master's degrees are also common. Some exercise physiologists continue their education even further to earn graduate degrees, such as a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology.

Certification and Licensure

Exercise physiologists may be required to hold a license, depending on the state. The American Society of Exercise Physiologists offers board certification for students with a major in exercise physiology, exercise science, sport science, or a related field. The exercise physiologist certification examination covers topics like cardiac fitness, metabolism, sports nutrition, kinesiology, and biomechanics. The exam consists of a multiple-choice test with 200 questions.

Employment Outlook

Many exercise physiologists work in hospitals or rehabilitation centers. There they help people with injuries, disabilities, or illness to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. They can also help clients who are working to overcome conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular health issues. Exercise physiologists typically work in settings such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing care facilities.

The BLS reports that job openings for exercise physiologists are expected to increase by 13% during the 2016-2026 decade, which is higher than average compared to other career fields.

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