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Purpose and Mission
Exercise physiologists are trained to assess the physical fitness of patients in hospitals and other medical facilities. They know how to measure strength, blood pressure, heart rate, and the amount of oxygen in the blood.
One of the primary duties of an exercise physiologist is to create progressive exercise regimens for patients with a variety of serious conditions. Another key duty is monitoring groups of patients who are exercising and documenting their progress.
The exercise equipment used in hospital programs is similar to that found in gyms, but some equipment is customised to meet patients’ needs.
Exercise physiologists typically work in hospitals, nursing homes, sports medicine clinics and physical therapy practices. Some exercise physiologists also work with healthier clients, managing or evaluating fitness programs at gyms or working to develop corporate fitness programmes. Some are also employed in professional sports, and work to create exercise regimens for athletes in specific sports.
Many exercise physiologists choose to work independently, but almost all are part of a healthcare team. Those employed in larger organizations may report to a mid-level healthcare administrator or similar job title.
In most cases, exercise physiologists do have notable supervisory responsibilities. Those with more education or experience are often involved in training and evaluation of colleagues. Some of these healthcare professionals choose to eventually move up into management or administrative positions.
Those who want to join the profession must complete a four year degree course in exercise physiology. The programmes includes coursework in biomechanics, physiology, psychology and nutrition, as well as creating fitness and rehabilitation programmes. Nearly all exercise physiologists also choose to become accredited by ESSA.
Responsibilities of an Exercise Physiologist
Exercise physiologists are allied healthcare professionals who focus on the benefits of exercise for all around good health, or to treat or manage patients with a medical condition through specific exercises.
Exercise physiologists have a bachelor’s degree and a broad range of knowledge about the human body and the many benefits of exercise.
These professionals understand the effects that exercise has on the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular and endocrine systems. They are trained to develop a course of exercises for either fitness or rehabilitation.
Depending on the individual and circumstances, Pilates may be recommended, or home-based or gym-based exercises. Exercise physiologists also treat medical conditions including obesity, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, depression, asthma and cardiovascular diseases, and even assist with behavioural modification programs.