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Find Your Way to Fitness

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 exercise program?


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 injuries?


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.


Kelly 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) 277-3861. 







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