Exercise Physiology: What Is It and How Can It Help Me?
Updated: Aug 5
Exercise Physiology is the study of exercise and how it can be used to improve Quality of Life (QOL). Exercise Physiologists (EPs) work with patients and clients who do not have acute injuries and are primarily looking to either maintain their current level of fitness or improve it by addressing a deficiency or imbalance in one or more areas.
EPs use Exercise Testing and Exercise Prescription to assess and improve one or multiple aspects of a patient or client’s fitness.
Examples of things the EP team can help with:
Low back pain
Limited shoulder ROM
Tight hips and ankles
Poor body composition
Increasing cardiovascular fitness
And many more!
Exercise Testing is usually conducted at the beginning, midpoint, and endpoint of a patient or client’s prescribed training program, to establish a fitness baseline and illustrate gains made during the course of training.
Exercise Prescription is individualized and based on the patient’s goals, time available to exercise, physical abilities, and preferences. Multiple exercise prescriptions can be written for different aspects of one patient’s Physical Fitness, such as one for cardiovascular fitness, one for muscular strength, and one for mobility.
Physical Fitness can be divided into the following health and performance-related aspects: Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Muscular Fitness, Flexibility and Mobility, and Body Composition. It is not uncommon for some patients to develop one aspect of fitness with ease, but struggle with developing another. All aspects are important, and it is imperative to have confidence in all health and performance-related aspects of fitness to ensure maximum performance.
Cardiorespiratory Fitness (CRF). Improvements in CRF result in being able to perform intense exercise for longer without tiring, and then being able to recover back to normal breathing faster afterward. In addition, increases in CRF are associated with multiple other health benefits as well as reductions in all-cause mortality.
Muscular Fitness is made up of Muscular Strength (ex. max bench, squat, or deadlift) and Muscular Endurance (max pushups or sit-ups). Power, an additional component of muscular fitness, can be defined as the ability to generate force quickly. Improvements in power output can result in the ability to run faster and jump higher.
Flexibility and Mobility often work in tandem; improvement in one will mean improvement in the other. Strength can be gained through increased Range of Motion (ROM). Pain in a joint’s range of motion can be caused by many things (ex. tissue restriction or weakness in a synergistic or antagonistic muscle) and can be reduced by improving ROM.
Body Composition. It has been well established that excess fat mass correlates with many chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. (1)Exercise prescriptions can help patients improve their body composition by managing weight, gaining muscle, and losing fat. These improvements can result in better sleep, more energy, and improved metabolism.
What happens during EP Sessions?
(1) An Exercise Physiology session will usually begin with a review of a patient's fitness history and a brief assessment of the patient's current level of fitness, or problem area.
(2)Once this is completed, an EP can work through exercises and techniques to assist the patient in improving the problem area.
(3) Once this is completed, an EP can work through exercises and techniques to assist the patient in improving the problem area. d as a home exercise routine over the next few weeks.
These prescriptions can often be completed along with the patient’s current exercise routine, and even incorporated into the warm-up or cool-down for maximum efficiency and time management.
Instructional videos to accompany the exercise prescription can be emailed to the patient for future reference, and the prescription can be continually tailored so the patient continues to receive maximum benefit from the prescription.
Whether you need a single assessment or want to improve an aspect of your fitness through a longer-term training program, the Exercise Physiology Dept is here to help you achieve your fitness goals!
For more information regarding body composition testing, mobility assessment, or exercise training, please reach out to the Exercise Physiology team at Reserve Health.
Reserve Health Midtown
131 Providence Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28207
Liguori, Gary, et al. ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 11th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2022.