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What is an Exercise Physiologist?

What is an Exercise Physiologist?
Photo: What is an Exercise Physiologist?
An exercise physiologist is an Allied Health professional who specialises in the benefits of exercise to help patients get fitter for all around good health, or to treat patients with a medical condition through exercise.

They are much more than an ordinary personal trainer at the gym.  Exercise physiologists study at university and have a wide range of knowledge about the human body and the benefit that exercise has on it, both mentally and physically.

Exercise physiologists are knowledgeable about the effects that exercise has on the musculoskeletal system, as well as on the cardiovascular and endocrine systems.  They can prescribe a course of exercises for either fitness or rehabilitation. Pilates may be recommended, also home based or gym based exercise routines.  They can also advise on behavioural modification programs.  Exercise physiologists can treat medical conditions such as obesity, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, asthma and cardiovascular diseases, as well as many other conditions.
Learn How to Become a Physiotherapist

Developing new and healthy habits for patients to enable them to manage their medical condition in the best way possible is a large part of their job.  They can also work side by side with physiotherapists, occupational therapists and podiatrists.

Exercise physiologists may work in private practice, in gyms, in medical centres or in hospitals.  Their patients may range from children to senior citizens.  Exercise physiologists can also work in the sports medicine research area or in the field of professional sport.

All exercise physiologists in Australia should be accredited with Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA).

How do you become an exercise physiologist?

You need to study at university and complete a four year degree course in Exercise Physiology.  The course covers biomechanics, physiology, psychology and nutrition.  The course work includes creating fitness and rehabilitation programmes.  This course is available at Murdoch University.

If the university of your choice doesn’t offer a degree course called Exercise Physiology, there are other courses you can undertake instead.  For instance, at some universities the relevant course may be called Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science or Bachelor of Applied Science and may only be a three year degree course.

Once you have completed your degree course, you can then apply for membership to ESSA.
If you like being physically active and are intrigued by the concept that medical conditions can be managed by exercise, then you may be interested in a career as an exercise physiologist.

As the population (especially the elderly population) is increasing, exercise physiologists will be in demand for years to come.  With our modern lifestyles, many people don’t have the time or inclination to exercise (until they see an exercise physiologist), which means a rise in treatable conditions such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

As you can see, a career as an exercise physiologist can be very rewarding.  You would be helping people to become fitter and healthier through exercise programmes that you have created for them as well as helping them to manage their medical conditions in an optimal way.


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