Catch Your Stride With An Exercise Therapist Career
What Is Exercise Therapy?
According to some studies, nearly half of all Americans don’t get enough exercise. Nearly a quarter of Americans also suffer from some type of mental or emotional disorder. Although everyone knows that being physically fit is good for our bodies, some may not realize that being physically fit can also help our mental and emotional well being as well. In fact, there is more and more evidence that suggests that there is a link between our physical well being and our mental well being. Scientists now realize that the majority of people that are physically fit and exercise regularly are generally happier and more mentally balanced.
Exercise therapy is a type of therapy that uses regular exercise as a therapeutic method. This type of therapy is more than just a regular exercise regimen, however. Clients utilizing this type of therapy are typically encouraged to set up a regular exercise regimen in hopes that it may help them feel better and cope with their everyday stress.
Exercise therapy can be used to treat a number of different problems. It can be used to treat individuals with problems such as low self-esteem, for instance, as well as individuals with negative body image. Exercise therapy has also been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
Nearly anyone can benefit from exercise therapy, as long as they are capable of doing at least light exercise.
How Does Exercise Therapy Work?
Although exercising might be one of the last things that most stressed out individuals might want to do, it is typically very effective. Exercise therapy works in a few different ways.
- Regular exercise helps people become more physically fit. This is often enough to help people with low self-esteem and poor body image problems. For example, exercise therapy is often recommended for individuals suffering from eating disorders.
- Some exercise requires interaction with other people. This social interaction is sometimes enough to make people feel better and less stressed.
- When people exercise, their brains release a few very important chemicals, which can be likened to a cocktail of “happy juice”. These chemicals include endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
What Does an Exercise Therapist Do?
First of all, an exercise therapist must determine if this type of therapy is right for each of his clients. In order to do this, the therapist will usually consult with his clients’ medical doctors. A client’s doctor will usually perform a complete physical examination as well as inquire about his medical history. With this information, the doctor will often be able to make recommendations regarding any limitations that the client may have regarding exercise.
An exercise therapist will also usually work with the client to help identify any problems he may be having and outline his goals. From there, the therapist and client can work together to create a structured exercise routine.
Exercise therapists can also help their clients choose exercises that work for them. Although an exercise therapist will often be able to recommend different types of exercises to his clients, the exercises that they choose are largely influenced by their abilities and limitations, as well as their interests. Swimming isn’t usually the best exercise choice for a person with a fear of water, for example. Hiking, on the other hand, may be a better exercise choice, especially if he has an interest in the outdoors. Some other common types of exercise performed during exercise therapy may include walking, running, dancing, weight lifting, and yoga. Also, clients that crave social interaction may want to consider team sports as part of their exercise regimens.
Therapists will then help their clients develop an exercise plan, or schedule. They will also encourage their clients and try to keep them motivated. For instance, they may suggest exercising with a friend or keeping an exercise log. An exercise therapist might also observe or help his clients exercise, and give them pointers to help them make the most of their therapy. They might help them hold their bodies correctly during certain exercises, for instance, or teach them breathing techniques.
The goal of exercise therapy, however, is not for clients to push their physical limits. Instead, an exercise therapist will encourage clients to enjoy their routines. Through this exercise, clients will often learn to accept their bodies, boost their self-esteem, and reduce stress in their everyday lives.
Where Do Exercise Therapists Work?
Exercise therapists might work in a number of different settings. For instance, they might work in medical facilities, such as hospitals, retirement homes, and physical therapy offices. Exercise therapists might also be able to find employment in gyms as well.
Many exercise therapists, however, choose to open their own private practices.
What Are the Education Requirements For a Career in Exercise Therapy?
If you’re interested in pursuing an exercise therapy career, you will need a sound education in both physical fitness and mental health. Individuals looking to become exercise therapists will often earn bachelor’s degrees in a mental health career, such as psychology or counseling. While earning this degree, students should also take several courses that concentrate on physical fitness.
Most exercise therapists also usually earn master’s degrees in exercise therapy or movement therapy. Graduates who wish to become certified must also complete a 480 hour supervised job placement experience before they can take the certification examination offered by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.
What is the Annual Salary of an Exercise Therapist?
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics does not record salary information for Exercise Therapists specifically. What it does instead is classify exercise therapists as exercise physiologists. It also records information for physical therapists. According to the BLS, as of May of 2014, exercise physiologists earn an annual average salary of $49,040. The bottom 10 percent of the profession earn an annual average salary of $30,700 while the top 10 percent of the profession earn an annual average salary of $73,010.