**What does it mean to be an exercise physiologist?**

I do exercise testing and personal training at a large, new, state-of-the-art fitness center. The two main tests I conduct are a resting metabolic-rate test, which tells you how many calories your body typically burns at rest (then you can, hopefully, figure out how many you should consume!); and cardiovascular tests, which reveal how cardiovascularly fit you are. Using those results, you can work at the right heart-rate zone to burn fat. I also do strength and flexibility assessments.

**And clearly, this requires some mathematical calculations.**

I do a little math everyday. Sometimes I’m converting meters to feet or miles. I work a lot with percentages, particularly heart rate percents. Often, I put some raw data into a computer program to get those percentages. Other times it is on the fly with a calculator, always with a calculator. I work with percentages of heart rates for training goals or with disease management cases. I also work in terms of percentages of fat, to weight, and to muscle. Once in a while a computer program doesn’t work and I have to do some algebraic equations by hand, old school. I don’t remember the formulas so I have to look them up.

**How do you think math helps you do your job better?**

Exercise science is a science, and it should be precise. I measure fitness levels (body composition, strength, flexibility and cardiovascular), prescribe exercise, and try to help clients achieve a certain percent increase in one thing, or a certain percent drop in another, and then measure again. If I get these things wrong, clients are less likely to see results, and in my job, I need to produce results.

**How comfortable with math do you feel?**

The math I do now I feel comfortable with. I know the basics well. When you throw out numbers to people, when you know numbers, people tend to listen more. When I’m presenting to my department head I always double-check my math.

**What kind of math did you take in high school?**

I was awful in Algebra. I had to work three times harder than everyone else just to get by. After the basics, math made little sense until I got to study stats in grad school. I found some more purpose in it.

**Did you have to learn new skills in order to do this math?**

Most of the math that I use at work or shopping at Costco I learned in school.

*Want to know more about the math involved in fitness and nutrition? Check out my book *Math for Grownups*, which will be out on July 18! And if you know of anyone who uses math in surprising ways in their work, please let me know.*