Master Degree in Exercise Physiology Online
Exercise physiology continues to evolve explosively as the medical community discovers the power of exercise to both prevent and treat disease. As an allied health professional, the exercise physiologist focuses on analyzing, improving and maintaining the health and physical condition of his or her clients, be they elite athletes or recovering hospital patients. An exercise physiologist might implement an injury prevention regimen for a university sports team, work with patients as a cardiac rehabilitation specialist, or research nutrition and metabolism in a laboratory environment. Regardless of their specialization or employment setting, an exercise physiologist is chiefly concerned with the human body's myriad of responses to physical activity. The field grows steadily, and a degree in exercise physiology can open the doors to a variety of careers, including:
- With professional or collegiate athletic teams.
- In fitness and wellness centers.
- In hospitals.
- In cardiopulmonary rehabilitation programs.
- As researchers.
- For the military.
What to Expect in College
The study of exercise physiology is the systematic study of how the body reacts and adapts to the demands of exercise, from the cellular level to psychological level and everything in between. Classes for the major are science-based and heavily into the labs. The aspiring exercise physiologist can expect to work hard throughout their college career. Core classes like anatomy, physiology and chemistry lay the groundwork needed to understand the physiological mechanisms underlying physical activity. Then the prospective exercise physiologist is ready to unlock the deeper secrets of human performance through the more advanced, major-specific classes, which generally encompass such courses as:
- Kinesiology (the study of how the body moves)
- Sports Nutrition
- Sports Psychology
- Strength and Conditioning
- Neuromuscular physiology
- Exercise Biochemistry
The exercise physiology major branches into several different specializations, like cardiac rehabilitation or strength and conditioning concentrations. Pre-professional tracks prepare students for graduate study in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other careers.
Choosing a Program
Sometimes uncovering a particular university's exercise physiology program requires a bit of digging around. The program can go by a number of aliases: exercise science or kinesiology, for example. It can also reside in one of several different departments or schools within the university: some colleges will house the degree in the department of health and human performance, while others have a department of recreation and sports studies. The sly ones will hide it in the education department with the physical education degree. A word about accreditation: at present, colleges in a select few regions of the nation can boast official accreditation by the American Society of Exercise Physiologists. Not to worry, though would-be exercise physiologists who cannot access these programs can still earn the right to claim the Exercise Physiologist title by sitting for the Exercise Physiologist Certified exam, and any good, solid degree program will prepare its students for this test.
Why Become an Exercise Physiologist?
Job outlook is good: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for professionals in the fitness field will continue to grow. A starting salary is difficult to predict because of the wide variance in specializations and employment settings, but according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary for a graduate with a bachelor's in exercise science was about $32,000 in 2008.
More importantly, though, an exercise physiologist goes to work each day knowing they will be helping someone whether they are helping a professional athlete to reach the top of their game or helping a cardiac patient face their fears and enjoy physical activity again. For future college students who love sports and working out, the prospect of a paying 9-5 that involves exercise is exciting. If the amazing machine that is the human body fascinates you and the idea of taking the body to revolutionary new limits of performance thrills you then an exercise physiology degree could be perfect for you.