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Exercise specialists assess the physical fitness and medical histories of patients who have health problems to create custom exercise regimens. They rely on their expert knowledge of physiology, nursing, and personal training to ensure that patients engage in safe, effective exercise. A person who wants to become an exercise specialist typically needs to earn a bachelor's degree in a health-related field, gain supervised experience in a clinical exercise program, and pass regional and national certification tests. With the appropriate training and credentials, an individual can become an exercise specialist at a physical rehabilitation clinic or public gym.
An individual who believes that he or she wants to become an exercise specialist can enroll in a four-year bachelor's degree program at an accredited university. Some schools offer exercise science degrees, which are particularly helpful in preparing future exercise specialists. If an exercise science major is not available, a student can still gain the knowledge and skills needed for the job in a nursing, physical therapy, or physiology program. An undergraduate learns the reasons why exercise is important for people who are at risk of health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. He or she receives detailed instruction about the physiology of the heart and lungs, and how smart diet and exercise routines can reduce risk factors.
Many schools offer internship or career placement opportunities for successful students to help them get started in the field after graduation. A person who wants to become an exercise specialist typically begins his or her career as an assistant at a clinical rehabilitation facility, learning about the profession firsthand from established specialists. Before working with actual patients, an assistant is typically required to complete training courses and receive certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid, and basic life support.
The training requirements to become an exercise specialist vary among regions and countries, but most professionals need to gain between three months and one year of supervised work experience before they can take certification exams. Certification is offered by professional governing boards, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in the United States. An individual can learn about prerequisites and testing dates by browsing the ACSM website or that of a similar organization in another country.
Once a person earns exercise specialist credentials, he or she is qualified to work independently with patients. Continuing education and refresher training courses are important for a practicing exercise specialist so that he or she can stay up to date on the latest techniques. Most exercise specialists enjoy their jobs immensely, and their services provide hope and health to millions of patients worldwide.
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