Exercise scientists assist sportspeople to achieve the best possible sporting performance by applying knowledge and techniques from the areas of biomedical science, physiology, biomechanics (the study of human movement), nutrition, psychology and sport assessment.
To become an exercise scientist you usually have to complete a degree in sport and exercise science or human movement. Alternatively, you may choose to complete a degree in a relevant area, such as nutrition, physiotherapy or medicine, followed by a postgraduate qualification in exercise science or clinical exercise physiology. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry or physics are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks. See the separate entries for Dietitian, Medical Practitioner and Physiotherapist for information on alternative study areas.
Exercise scientists may perform the following tasks:
Exercise scientists often attend training sessions and sporting events to monitor sporting performances in addition to working in an office or testing laboratory. They have a high level of contact with the public.
Exercise scientists work at sports institutes (such as the Australian Institute of Sport), professional sports clubs, sports medicine clinics and sporting associations. A number of professionals working in sports medicine are self-employed and may subcontract their services. Clients include professional and amateur sportspeople. Exercise scientists may work as consultants in fitness performance analysis and injury rehabilitation. Some exercise scientists volunteer at sporting clubs.
An exercise physiologist provides scientific support to sportspeople by studying how their bodies respond to physical activity. This can be done using various methods such as studying responses to exercise and training, analysing heart-rate data and blood samples or measuring changes in a sportsperson's strength and flexibility.
A motor control and learning specialist uses their knowledge of motor control and learning to analyse an athlete's perceptual and decision-making abilities during sporting events and devises strategies to improve learning and performance.
A sports biomechanist conducts computerised analyses of an athlete's sporting technique. This is done using high-speed video, force transducers and other mechanical devices to determine the athlete's mechanical efficiency. Working in conjunction with the coach, they also devise methods to improve the athlete's technical efficiency.
A sports scientist works with elite sports teams or individuals in order to improve their performance, using knowledge from the areas of physiology, psychology, biomechanics and motor development.