Find Your Way to Fitness
by Kelly Chase, MS
May is National Fitness Month and
there is no better time to start getting into shape. If you have not exercised
for a while, if you have physical limitations, or if you just lack motivation
to get moving, you might consider working with an exercise physiologist.
What is an exercise physiologist?
An exercise physiologist is someone
who has a degree in health sciences, physical education, or a related field.
Most exercise physiologists working as personal trainers in gyms or fitness
clubs also have a national certification.
What are the advantages of getting
this kind of help?
Exercise physiologists have been
through at least four years of college. They know how exercise affects the bodies
of healthy people and people with health problems. Their training enables them
to safely advise people with various medical conditions and it is this
experience that sets exercise physiologists apart from other personal trainers.
Where do we start?
If you are a beginner, the exercise
physiologist will start with a personal assessment and consultation, which
examines your individual needs, physical limitations, and fitness goals. You
will also learn the proper ways to set up exercise equipment for your size and
level of fitness.
If you are an athlete in training
for an event, or someone who just wants to become healthier, the exercise
physiologist will review your current exercise regimen and help you determine
how to better reach your goals. Personal training is one-on-one, very
individualized, and specific to what you need and want to gain in the way of
fitness and personal health.
Where does fitness testing come in?
Fitness testing is a good way to
get a baseline assessment of your current fitness status. This provides you
with information on what areas you can focus on and improve, based on national
norms for your age and gender. This testing can be repeated later on to see how
your exercise program is working and how it can be tweaked to make it better.
A baseline assessment, which will
help the exercise physiologist determine your individual exercise prescription,
evaluates four components of health-related fitness: body composition, aerobic
fitness, flexibility, and muscular strength and endurance. Each of these
components affects your health and by improving them you may lower your risks
for back pain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, which are among the
leading health problems in this country.
Is it ever too late to start an
There is value in exercising no
matter when you start and if you are over 50, exercise can be especially
valuable. At this stage of life, our metabolisms drop and exercise can help
prevent weight gain. Exercise also helps combat osteoporosis. Moderate activity
most days of the week will have an impact on your health-related fitness
components and will also help you with stress reduction, self-confidence, and
balance. Even a twenty-minute workout three times a week can make a difference
in the way you feel.
Won’t exercise inflame my old
No matter what your physical issues
may be, an experienced exercise physiologist can help you figure out how to
accommodate your limitations. People with joint replacements, people with
different disabilities, and people with many different types of limitations can
and do exercise. There are so many ways to approach low impact exercise and
strength training that there really is no excuse not to exercise.
Chase is the fitness director at Island Health & Fitness. She holds an MS
in exercise physiology and a BS in exercise science and cardiac rehabilitation
from Ithaca College. She can be reached at Island Health & Fitness, (607)