Exercise Physiology: Definition & Goals

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  • 0:04 Exercise Physiology Definition
  • 0:40 Exercise Physiology Goals
  • 1:33 Exercise Physiology Areas
  • 2:07 Exercise Program Development
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Donna Ricketts

Donna Ricketts is a health educator with 15 years of professional experience designing health and wellness programs for adults and children.

In this lesson, you will learn about exercise physiology and the role it plays in fitness. You'll also learn about the areas of specialization and goals of exercise physiology.

Exercise Physiology Definition

When you exercise, you're helping build a strong and healthy body that will be able to move around and do all the things you need it to do. Exercise physiology is simply an understanding of how your body responds to exercise. It falls under the umbrella of kinesiology, which is the scientific study of human movement.

Exercise physiology examines how your body's cells and organs, such as your cardiovascular, muscular and respiratory systems, are changed when exposed to acute (short) and chronic (long, over time) bouts of exercise.

Exercise Physiology Goals

There are two distinct goals of exercise physiology:

  1. The use of exercise to further understand how the body functions
  2. The use of that knowledge to develop activities and programs that establish, maintain, and promote physical fitness

Knowing how your body responds to short-term bouts of physical activity and how it adapts to repeated bouts of physical activity over time can have a profound impact on your health and help you reach a higher level of fitness and/or health long-term.

For example, cardio or aerobic exercise can affect your mood. Immediately after a brisk, 30-minute walk, your body releases endorphins, which are natural pain-reducing substances that can give you a sense of well-being. Knowing that walking has a positive effect on your mood tells you that incorporating walking into your fitness program long-term may help with health issues and can reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and tension.

Exercise Physiology Areas

Exercise physiology can be split into two main areas of specialization: fitness and rehabilitation. Fitness can help professional athletes improve their performance or help people to lose weight and become more healthy and physically fit. The rehabilitation focus seeks to provide health benefits to those suffering from diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It can also help people who are recovering from injuries or dealing with chronic conditions, such as arthritis and lower back pain.

Exercise Program Development

So let's say you are experiencing some low back pain due to lifting too much weight at the gym. You make an appointment with an exercise physiologist who takes you through the following steps for developing a customized exercise program.

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