Exercise Physiology Career Outlook

By Published On: April 27, 2022

Exercise physiology is a growing career in sports and physical wellness. As awareness of health and well-being continues to increase, so does the demand for a more advanced understanding of the body’s physical functions.

Concordia University Chicago’s MS in Applied Exercise Science program offers a concentration in exercise physiology that is designed to prepare students for a successful career in the field of exercise science by providing a thorough education in the physiological aspects. The master’s program offers two tracks; one for those with no exercise science background, and another for those with an exercise science background.

With professional opportunities in the sports world and the health and wellness arena, there is an abundance of pathways to a successful career for exercise physiology students.

What is Exercise Physiology?

Exercise physiology is the study of the body’s response and ability to adapt to physical activity. The American Society of Exercise Physiologists states that the practice involves four main areas:

  • promoting health and wellness
  • preventing illness and disability
  • restoring health
  • helping athletes reach their potential in sports training and performance

Similar to exercise science, exercise physiology focuses on activities that can improve physical wellness and health.

An exercise physiologist works with individual patients to improve things such as flexibility, cardiovascular health, body composition, and other physical conditions. They customize physical fitness plans that help patients reach their goals. Whether as a preventative measure or recovery from injury, physiologists strive to improve the physical health of patients with targeted, customized approaches.

This career path continues to grow in popularity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is expected to expand by 13 percent in the next decade. This is currently faster than the average growth rate for other industries.

Career Options for Exercise Physiologists

The professions available to exercise physiologists vary across multiple industries. From physical rehabilitation, physical fitness, and professional and college sports, the possibilities are expansive. Depending upon the level of education you pursue and your general interest, there are several exciting options available.

Clinical Exercise Physiologist

The most obvious career option for those studying exercise physiology is a clinical exercise physiologist. This career requires working one-on-one with patients who are dealing with chronic health issues that can be improved through physical activity. Clinical exercise physiologists are responsible for monitoring patients, baseline testing, and interpreting data. Most exercise physiologists work in healthcare facilities and keep a regular schedule.

Clinical Research Assistant

Clinical research assistants work on the innovative side of healthcare, with a focus on clinical trials. They conduct research and formulate studies on varying medical strategies, analyzing their safety and effectiveness. Along with a thorough understanding of exercise physiology, research assistants must also have a solid grasp of research and technology. This exciting field is partially responsible for improving healthcare at every level. Research assistants typically work in laboratories or healthcare institutions.


Coaching is another field that can benefit from a candidate with an exercise physiology background. Specifically with strength and conditioning coaches, a thorough understanding of the physical workings of the human body can help lead athletes to optimal performance. Strength and conditioning coaches’ primary responsibilities are to prepare fitness plans for athletes and push them to peak physical conditions. Coaches are typically employed on a team staff at universities and professional organizations.

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists help patients recover from injuries and illnesses, physically working with them to regain strength and mobility. Most physical therapists keep routine hours working in a hospital or healthcare facility. A physical therapist assistant is another career option available, depending on the level of education you wish to pursue. The exercise physiologist concentration can help students meet the requirements to enter a doctorate of physical therapy program.

Laboratory Technician

Lab techs primarily work in hospitals or healthcare facilities collecting samples and analyzing data. It’s a highly technical career, with an emphasis on research and data analysis. Although lab techs do interact with patients when taking samples, most of the job is spent working with other scientists in the lab.

Skills Required to Work in Exercise Physiology

Most careers in the exercise sciences require at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in science and health-related courses. Studies in anatomy, kinesiology, nutrition, or biology would benefit potential candidates greatly as they begin their job search.

Additionally, clinical work is often desired, depending on the exact career responsibilities. As in most industries, the higher the level of education, the wider the possibilities for career growth.

Along with job requirements, there are quite a few necessary skills that a candidate in this field would do well to nurture.


Professionals in the exercise physiology field must be able to explain treatment plans clearly, ensuring that their patients fully understand the information.

Critical Thinking

Decisions about physical health and wellbeing require a thorough knowledge of the information, but also an ability to think critically. Patients depend upon exercise physiologists to provide them with the best method of recovery.

Assessment Skills

Exercise physiologists must be able to assess several factors at once in order to best determine a plan of recovery for their patients. Things like vital signs, strength, flexibility, and blood pressure are all physical assessments that physiologists will use to make decisions.

Concordia University Chicago’s Exercise Physiology Concentration

If a career in exercise physiology sounds exciting to you, then consider applying to Concordia University Chicago’s MS in Applied Exercise Science program. Perhaps you’ve always had an interest in health and wellness, or maybe you’re a personal trainer looking to move forward in your career. Either way, the program at Concordia University Chicago is designed with your success in mind.

The program is entirely online, with 24/7 access to the learning platform. Concordia Chicago’s tuition guarantee assures your tuition won’t change on you while you study. Students will be equipped with skills they need to thrive in the world of exercise science. In such a rapidly expanding field, an MS from Concordia University Chicago could open the door to limitless possibilities.

Learn more, and submit a free application for our MS in Applied Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology concentration today.

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