How to Choose the Best Masters in Exercise Physiology

This article provides you with information about the field of exercise physiology, and why you may want to consider earning a master’s degree in this career field. We also will share information with you about available online master’s in exercise physiology programs.

Exercise physiologists focus on the analysis of their patient’s’ fitness level to help them to improve their overall health, or to assist them in staying healthy. These exercise professionals help patients with heart disease and other long term conditions, such as diabetes and lung diseases, to get healthy again.

Exercise physiologists may work at times with amateur and professional athletes who want to increase their level of performance. Also, some may work with youth and adolescents in elementary and secondary schools to help them to get fit. They also may work with athletic programs in these schools to help their athletes to reach higher performance.

An exercise physiologist often uses stress tests and other advanced evaluation tools to evaluate the fitness level of each patient as well as their metabolism. Then, they customize a fitness plan that improves their fitness level and meets their fitness goals. Many clients want or need to increase their endurance, strength and flexibility. The exercise physiologist helps the client to determine which of these is most important.

Many exercise physiologists are certified, and they are trained specifically to do the following;

  • Do stress tests with healthy and unhealthy patients
  • Review the overall health of the person and pay special attention to heart function and metabolism
  • Develop a specific exercise program to boost physical fitness and endurance
  • Design a custom exercise program to better meet client health care goals

If you want to become an exercise physiologist, you can have many different options for where you want to work:

  • Athletic training programs at many universities
  • Corporate wellness centers
  • Fitness centers
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation clinics
  • Military installations

With so many possible places to work, it is not a surprise that demand for workers in this field will increase by 11% by 2024. Some experts believe that this could rise in the future as corporations realize that one way to reduce health care costs of workers is to employ exercise physiologists who work with employees to maintain and improve their health.

Note that an exercise physiologist is a different type of worker than a personal trainer. An exercise physiologist is actually a health care professional with an exercise physiology degree; many in the field have been certified by the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP). The American College of Sports Medicine also offers certification for exercise physiologists who have completed a degree program.

Also, as you are evaluating master’s in exercise physiology programs, we recommend that you choose a program that has been accredited by ASEP, as well.

Does becoming an exercise physiologist interest you? Then please consider some of the online master’s programs that we have researched below:

Master’s Degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology

University of Mary’s Clinical Exercise Physiology Master of Science degree studies advanced exercise physiology. It has a clinical emphasis in the prescription of exercises for populations that especially need to improve their fitness and flexibility such as patients with:

  • Cardiac problems
  • Diabetes
  • Pulmonary diseases
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal problems

When you graduate, you will be able to pursue an exciting career in many health and education settings. These could include heart and lung rehabilitation centers, clinical exercise centers, corporate fitness and higher education.

This MS degree is offered partially online and also has some face to face classes over the two year program. Your required classes include:

  • Critique and Design of Research
  • Statistics
  • ECG for Clinical Exercise Physiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Exercise Testing and Prescription
  • Thesis Planning
  • Exercise Prescription and Chronic Conditions
  • Clinical Exercise Physiology I
  • Clinical Exercise Physiology II
  • Biogenetics
  • Thesis Proposal
  • Internship I: Clinical Physiology
  • Internship II: Clinical
  • Thesis Dissertation & Defense I
  • Thesis Dissertation & Defense II
  • Psychology in Sport, Health, and Disease
  • Nutrition in Sport, Health, and Disease

Master’s Degree in Exercise Science

Concordia University Chicago offers an innovative master’s program that allows you to choose from four different concentrations, and you may complete the program in only 18 months. Options include:

  • Fitness and Health Promotion
  • Human Movement Science
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Sport Performance Training

The most popular program at this online university is the Human Movement Science option. With injuries becoming more and more common, it is very important for injury prevention to be at the top of the list for most athletes. This program will give you the skills and knowledge to help to prevent injuries in your clients, and teach students and adults how to improve their cardiovascular capacity and to correct any faulty movements.

Concordia’s online programs are offered 100% online and there is no campus visit needed. There are a total of 30 credits and you can begin the program in the fall, spring or summer.

Master of Science in Sports and Health Sciences

American Military University has a master of science program that studies exercise physiology and the physical and functional adaptations of humans.

This fully online master’s degree will help students to hone their critical thinking abilities and provide you with the scientific grounding that you will need to help different populations to improve their fitness and sports performance to reach their health goals.

This two year online program follows the recommended guidelines from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. The curriculum is reviewed every year by an expert advisory council to ensure that the program is covering everything that is needed in modern exercise physiology. Program topics include:

Specific classes include:

  • Research Methods in Sports and Health Sciences
  • Sport Psychology
  • Advanced Exercise and Sport Physiology
  • Statistics for Spots and Health Sciences
  • Motor Learning
  • Nutrition for Sports Performance
  • Advanced Methods of Strength and Conditioning
  • Essentials of Human Performance and Exercise Science
  • Advanced Biomechanics

Master’s in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology

Columbia University offers a campus-based Master of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. It features many courses on both nutrition and applied physiology. You will be prepared to conduct individual counseling as well as group education in nutrition and exercise. This will provide you with the skills to implement effective nutrition and exercise programs in fitness centers and work sites, as well as primary and secondary schools.

This program focuses on both nutrition and physiology, so graduates have a major edge over graduates of competing programs. Your classes include:

  • Advanced Nutrition I
  • Advanced Nutrition II
  • Community Nutrition
  • Nutritional Ecology
  • Food, Nutrition, and Behavior
  • Nutrition Care Process & Medical Nutrition Therapy I
  • Nutrition Care Process & Medical Nutrition Therapy II
  • Nutrition and Human Development
  • Research Methods
  • Nutrition Epidemiology
  • Analysis of Current Literature and Research in Nutrition
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Strategies for Nutrition Education and Health Behavior Change
  • Applied Physiology I
  • Neuromuscular Responses and Adaptations to Exercise
  • Brain and Behavior
  • Applied Physiology II

The field of exercise physiology is one that is expanding rapidly across the country, as there is stronger emphasis on preventative care to reduce the costs of health care as the population is aging and living longer. You can enjoy a very rewarding career with a master’s degree in this booming field.

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Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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