Why do people sweat and dehydrate after exercise? How do your muscles become
toned? How should you breathe during exercise to get the maximum amount of
oxygen? Exercise physiology students deal with questions like these.
Exercise physiology (also known as exercise science) is typically a
four-year bachelor's degree program. It's often offered as a specialization
within a sport studies or kinesiology program. Master's or PhD programs are
Programs deal with how the body reacts to certain movements, the balance
between food and exercise and how the body processes certain foods. Classes
cover biology, chemistry, anatomy and natural science.
Most programs require students to do an internship before graduation.
This can be done in places like rehabilitation centers, YMCAs, clinics or
hospitals or health and fitness centers.
Cathryn Doody is a professor of exercise science at Slippery Rock University
in Pennsylvania. "Students in exercise science will be able to prescribe cardiovascular
and resistance exercise for the apparently healthy individual, as well as
the chronically diseased such as arthritics, diabetics, the obese, [and people
with] low back pain, [and] heart disease," she says.
You'll need strong academic, communication and writing skills. "Students
need to be strong in natural sciences, especially physics, chemistry and math,"
says Alan Salmoni, coordinator of the kinesiology program at a university.
Extracurricular activities are also important in creating discipline and
LaGary Carter is a kinesiology professor at Valdosta State University in
Georgia. He says being involved in athletics is almost as important as
your academic work. "This provides students with an appreciation for physical
exercise," he says.
Salmoni suggests getting involved with volunteer work at hospitals,
rehab clinics and fitness clubs. Students can also gain valuable experience
by working with the physically challenged, children and the elderly.
Aside from tuition and books, costs may include activity fees to access
the exercise facility on campus. You may also want to join the American Society
for Exercise Physiologists, which charges a membership fee.
Students must apply for a certification license to become a physical
trainer or exercise physiologist. The American Society of Exercise Physiologists
requires applicants to complete several specific classes before they can be
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Physical
American Society of Exercise Physiologists
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