10 April 2012

The licensing of exercise physiologists. Part 1

Posted by Jody under: Fitness .

Exercise physiology is something of a profession in limbo as some states license (and limit)
Its practice while debate continues on its appropriate role in health-care and fitness.

As more emphasis is placed on the preventive aspect of health care, there is an increasing demand for qualified persons to provide health and fitness education. One such demand centers around the exercise physiologist profession. At present, many in the industry claim to be exercise physiologists, but lack the necessary experience or training. Thus, the value of a college degree has been tarnished by a lack of formal academic preparation. As a result, many qualified exercise physiologists are eager for state laws requiring professional licensure.

These laws would theoretically distinguish the qualified from the less qualified. Many of those interested in licensure are looking to adopt legislation similar to that recently passed in the state of Louisiana. The Louisiana bill (SB-597) implemented the unprecedented licensure of clinical exercise physiologists. Although a significant number of exercise physiologists might consider this legislation too restrictive and exclusive in nature, it is seen as a step in the right direction.

Defining the exercise physiologist

The initial debate centers around the definition of an exercise physiologist. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Dictionary of Occupational Titles defines an exercise physiologist as one who:

Develops, implements and coordinates exercise programs and administers medical tests under a physician’s supervision, to promote physical fitness. Explains program and test procedures to participants. Interviews participant to obtain vital statistics and medical history and records information. Records heart activity, using an electrocardiograph (EKG) machine, while participant undergoes stress test on treadmill, under physician’s supervision. Measures oxygen consumption and lung functioning, using spirometer. Measures amount of body fat, using such equipment as hydrostatic scale, skinfold calipers and tape measure, to assess body composition. Performs routine laboratory test of blood samples of cholesterol level and glucose tolerance, or interprets test results. Schedules other examinations and tests, such as physical examination, chest X-ray and urinalysis. Records test data in patient’s chart or enters data into computer. Writes initial and follow-up exercise prescriptions for participants, following physician’s recommendations, specifying equipment, such as treadmill, track or bike. Demonstrates correct use of exercise equipment and exercise routines. Conducts individual and group aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises. Observes participants during exercise for signs of stress. Teaches behavior modification classes, such as stress management, weight control and related subjects. Orders material and supplies and calibrates equipment. May supervise work activities of other staff members.1

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