exercise physiologist working

What does an Exercise Physiologist do?

An exercise physiologist works with patients and develops programs to help a patient’s composition, flexibility, or chronic disorder. They use various physical activities to improve a patient’s condition. They treat illnesses, muscle, bone injuries, and other problem areas and practice ways to prevent injury.

Watch a video to learn what an exercise physiologist does.

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How to Become a Exercise Physiologist

exercise physiologist working

A bachelor’s degree will contain courses in science, biology, anatomy, physiology and nutrition, and health-related courses. It is suggested to attend a university with an accreditation by the Commission of Accreditation of Athletic Training Education or the Committee of Accreditation for Exercise Science in order to receive the required certification to obtain a license to practice in your state after earning your degree.

Job Description of a Exercise Physiologist

An exercise physiologist specializes in the treatment of bone and muscle injuries and chronic illness to recover and prevent injuries. They analyze a patient’s physical injuries or illnesses and assist them to move toward recovery. They also encourage and educate a patient in ways to remain healthy and physically fit, as well as advising parents and coaches in preventative measures to avoid injury.

When a situation arises that requires emergency care or first aid, they can evaluate and care for the injured person, as well as know if a patient needs further treatment from a physician. He or she may travel with athletic teams to sports events in order to be able to assist an athlete in the event of injury and provide preventative care by using tape, braces, and bandages. They also clear an athlete to play if they have been previously injured and report the progress of recovery to coaches or doctors.

When necessary, an exercise physiologist works with physicians to develop a more thorough rehabilitation routine for a patient. They maintain accurate patient records to document their treatment and progress for further reference. They use tools in their occupation such as splints, elliptical trainers, exercise bikes, pelvis or back traction supplies, facial shields, and heat and cold therapy.

Athletic trainers and exercise physiologists can be found working in multiple environments, such as colleges and universities. Others may work in doctor’s offices or for professional sports teams, hospitals, or outpatient clinics.

Exercise Physiologist Career Video Transcript

Are you interested in planning and implementing exercise programs to help people reach their wellness goals? If so, you might be interested in a career as an exercise physiologist.

Exercise physiologists develop personalized fitness and exercise programs and help patients recover from chronic diseases and improve physical functions. They perform fitness tests, including measurements of body fat, blood pressure, oxygen usage, and other key patient health indicators. Many of their patients suffer from health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, long term disability, or obesity.

Exercise physiologists bring their compassion to work as they encourage patients to reach goals and overcome pain or discomfort. On a daily basis, exercise physiologists make decisions that may affect the future health or livelihood of patients. They must keep accurate records to ensure patients receive appropriate treatments.

Strong communication skills help them develop good relationships with both patients and other medical staff. Exercise physiologists work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and university laboratories. Most work full-time. Although about 40% of exercise physiologists work part-time.

Entering the field of physiology, requires at least a bachelor’s degree, including coursework in anatomy, science, exercise methods, and medical terminology. A few states require licensure, although a few states are considering creating the licensure requirements.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Exercise Physiologist.

National Center for O*NET Development. 29-1128.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.