A common question of people who have an interest in fitness is, “What is an exercise physiologist?”. It’s a good question because you can make an entire career in the exercise physiology industry as well as other health and fitness industries. An exercise physiologist has a rewarding career by applying concepts of exercise science and helping others achieve greater levels of well-being. In general, an exercise physiologist meets with a client or patient, conducts a comprehensive fitness assessment (or exercise testing), develops an appropriate exercise program, and assists the patient in achieving the physical activity recommendations.

This article provides a full overview of what an exercise physiologist is and answers the following questions:

  1. What exactly does an exercise physiologist do?
  2. Where does an exercise physiologist work?
  3. What education is needed to become an exercise physiologist?
  4. What other careers can the study of exercise physiology get you?

What Does An Exercise Physiologist Do?

By strict definition, the role of an exercise physiologist aims to help a patient recover from disease, surgery, or other negative health aspects. They have a sound understanding of how the body responds to exercise and how it can positively affect chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and more. Therefore, the outcome of working with the patient is to improve health. Therefore, their role is slightly different to similar health occupations. These related jobs and the differences are as follows:

  • Personal Trainers: Use diet and exercise to achieve a fitness response. It’s often their clients seek weight loss or better body composition (increasing lean body mass). However, they can also work with clients to improve health (like an exercise physiologist) but it isn’t their primary client.
  • Athletic Trainers: Work with sports teams to help prevent, treat, and recover from injuries. Just as a personal trainer has a more aesthetic focus, athletic trainers differ from trainers in that they have a sports performance focus.
  • Physical Therapist: Have a primary focus on improving human movement after injury. Their goal with a patient is minimizing pain, restore function, and prevent further injury.

These other jobs are close to what an exercise physiologist does, but the outcome and type of client they treat tend to be different. On any given day, and exercise physiologist will:

  • Analyze patient biometric data or medical records
  • Conduct initial and follow-up exercise testing
  • Develop an exercise prescription to achieve chronic conditions improvement
  • Carry out an exercise program with the client

Where Do Exercise Physiologists Work?

A clinical exercise physiologist most commonly works in hospitals or offices of healthcare providers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of exercise physiologists are self-employed. This means they have their own clinical setting where they work with clients privately after receiving a recommendation from a medical professional. However, other times, you’ll find this type of physiologist working in corporate wellness centers, physical therapy clinics, rehabilitation clinics, physical therapy offices, and more. 

What Type Of Education Do You Need To Be An Exercise Physiologist?

If you like the idea of what applied exercise physiology can do to help others improve their quality of life, you need an education. While some will have a master’s degree, you don’t need one. In fact, you can start working as an exercise physiologist with a bachelor’s degree. Exercise physiology degree courses commonly include:

  • Kinesiology
  • Sports Medicine
  • Exercise Psychology
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Fitness Business

However, depending on the degree program you choose, there will be many others. The reputation, history, and convenience of degree programs make Lionel University the best education choice if you’re looking to pursue this type of career.  In addition to financial aid, these programs include a personal training certification within your first few months. This means you can start working in the fitness industry while you pursue your education.

What Other Careers Can You Get With A Degree In Exercise Physiology?

Exercise physiologists often make changes throughout their educational and professional career. Physical therapists, athletic trainers, and personal trainers are just a few adjacent career opportunities. People who pursue a degree program in exercise science can also consider becoming a:

  • Corporate wellness director
  • Health educator
  • Group fitness instructor
  • Nutrition coach
  • Fitness manager
  • Gym owner
  • Cardiac rehabilitation specialist

Of course, with obesity being a national epidemic, there are even more exercise and fitness jobs available. Read more about exercise science jobs you can get. 

With an exercise degree program, you’ll learn ALL the factors that impact a client’s ability to move and be fit. It’s a holistic approach you can only get with these types of degrees. And, while having a personal training certification can help you get a job, an exercise science degree is even more impressive. This allows you to work with more client types, charge more per session, and provide additional service beyond traditional fitness training.

Regardless of whether you’re pursuing an associates degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree, at Lionel you earn multiple certifications and specializations along the way. This means you can start working as a fitness and nutrition professional even before graduation day! And, with the help of financial aid, earning your exercise science degree is even more of a possibility. 

Check out our programs and contact Lionel today!

Get your health back and earn college credit while doing it.