As a student interested in exercise and physical activity, you might have wondered about how you can take that interest and use it in a profession. There are many areas where exercise is used to maintain health or rehabilitate disease. A couple of questions you can ask yourself are, what kind of people do I want to work with (i.e., athletes, healthy adults, or those with disease) and in what kind of setting would I like to work (e.g., club, clinical, school, etc.)? If you are interested in working with individuals who need exercise for rehabilitation and you would like to be in a clinical setting, Clinical Exercise Physiology might be for you. A clinical exercise physiologist (CEP) is a “healthcare professional who is trained to work with patients with chronic diseases where exercise training has been shown to be of therapeutic benefit, including but not limited to cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, and metabolic disorders.”
CEPs typically work in a medically supervised settings such as a hospital or rehabilitation center.These professionals usually hold at least a master’s degree in exercise physiology or a similar degree and maintain a state license or professional certification such as ACSM’s Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist® (CES) or ACSM’s Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist® (RCEP).
ACSM recently launched the Clinical Exercise Physiology Association (CEPA). This organization is charged with the development of Clinical Exercise Physiology as a profession by enhancing and supporting research and application of exercise for disease prevention and rehabilitation in the clinical setting. If you would like to use your interest in exercise in a clinical setting, it may be worth looking into CEPA. You can explore the organization on their website at http://www.acsm-cepa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1.