Clinical Exercise Physiology launches at Edinburgh Napier

Programme leader Dr Amanda Pitkethly discusses the need for Clinical Exercise Physiologists in today’s workforce, what the subject is all about and what careers you can go into if you choose to study this masters course at Edinburgh Napier University.

What is Clinical Exercise Physiology?

CEPs specialises in the prescription and delivery of evidence-based exercise interventions to optimise the prevention, treatment and long term management of acute, sub-acute, chronic and complex conditions.

As a graduate Clinical Exercise Physiologist, you may work in a range of primary, secondary and tertiary care settings as part of a multidisciplinary team of health care and rehabilitation providers.

CEP services aim to optimise physical function and health and promote long-term wellness through lifestyle modification and behaviour change across the lifespan.

Why should people study this as a post-graduate degree?

Our MSc programme develops the skills that graduates need to meet the Academy for Healthcare Sciences (AHCS) Standards of Proficiency which are in line with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) Standards of Proficiency.

We teach the curriculum framework developed by Clinical Exercise Physiology-UK (CEP-UK), delivering the required knowledge and skills to be a competent Clinical Exercise Physiologist in the UK. Completing this MSc forms part of the requirement for eligibility to register with the AHCS.

What kind of career can I go into when I graduate from this programme?

The role of CEP is to work as part of healthcare teams across healthcare settings from hospital to community. For example, within:

  • Secondary care pre/rehabilitation settings
  • Primary Care
  • Private hospital settings
  • Public and private multidisciplinary clinics and leisure services
  • Defence Medical Services n Population/Public health/ Policy advisors
  • Workplace health and rehabilitation
  • Research/Academia

What will a clinical exercise physiologist do?

CEPs specialise in exercise testing and assessment, alongside the design, delivery and evaluation of evidence-based exercise interventions. CEP scope of practice encompasses apparently healthy individuals to those with chronic and complex conditions, along the care pathway from primary prevention, through acute management, to rehabilitation and maintenance. Interventions are exercise or physical activity-based and also include health and physical activity education, advice and support for lifestyle modification and behaviour change. CEPs work in a range of primary, secondary and tertiary care settings as part of a multidisciplinary team of health care and rehabilitation providers and in community settings.

Do I need any previous experience in this area to apply to the course?

The usual entry requirements for the courses are an undergraduate degree in a sport and exercise science (or related area i.e. your undergraduate degree must include the common elements of a sport and exercise science degree i.e. physiology, psychology and biomechanics). Additional vocational training (e.g. CIMSPA Gym Instructor etc) and experience working in health and fitness is not necessary but would support your studies well.

What do you look forward to most about teaching this course?

As a programme team, we are proud to be part of this brand new registered profession in the UK, we are all passionate about developing truly empathic, reflective and professional scientist-practitioners who enjoy helping individuals with health conditions, and who can also make an important impact in our healthcare systems in the same way that other countries, e.g. Australia, have been doing for 20+ years.

Why should I choose to study Clinical Exercise Physiology at Edinburgh Napier?

Since 2016, we have a track record in Edinburgh, and Scotland more widely, for developing clinical exercise scientists. Many of our previous graduates have gone on to valuable work in healthcare systems and research. Our team of excellent academics have so much to offer including: international reach and esteem, involvement in the recognition of the profession of CEP in the UK and its promotion, involvement in developing the national curriculum, applied clinical experience and much more.

To learn more about the course and apply, visit

ENU researchers design prehab service to revolutionise pre-surgery patient care

The waiting time for hip and knee replacement increased from 12 weeks to 18 months because of Covid and the backlog it created for the NHS.

Such a long period can considerably decrease the quality of life and the chance of quick post-surgery recovery for the patient. The good news: a group of ENU researchers may have just found the perfect solution.

Patients waiting for hip or knee replacements live with severe pain symptoms caused by damaged joint surfaces. The constant soreness and discomfort reduce people’s mobility and fitness, increasing their chances for gaining weight and extending the likely time of post-surgery recovery.

According to Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Anna Campbell, “Evidence is emerging that providing virtual exercise, nutritional and emotional support to people waiting for operations – or during treatment – has the potential to significantly improve their physical and psychological wellbeing and quality of life.”

The hip and knee (HAK) prehab intervention is a pilot service designed by ENU lecturers and researchers – Dr Kostas Kaliarntas, Professor Anna Campbell, and Dr Amanda Pitkethly from the School of Applied Sciences; and Dr David Hamilton, Dr Coral Hanson and Professor Lis Neubeck from the School of Health and Social Care. They worked in collaboration with orthopaedic surgeon Dr Nick Clement and anaesthetist Dr Elizabeth Brun Lacey, from NHS Lothian.

The service is now being funded by NHS Lothian for approximately 18 months. Its function is to provide virtual lifestyle behaviour change programmes that will increase the fitness and wellbeing of patients waiting for hip and knee replacement. These include individual online exercise sessions, dietary advice, and emotional support; all provided by clinical exercise physiologists.

Similar services developed by ENU researchers have been successfully delivered to cancer and cardiac patients, such as the ongoing Safefit trial led by Professor Anna Campbell and her team.

The new HAK prehab intervention follows the Safefit protocol and researchers aim to recruit 126 hip and knee replacement patients, supplying each of them with a 6-month virtual prehabilitation service.

The clinical exercise physiologists will monitor behavioural changes and measure outcomes by conducting interviews and exploring service users’ experiences. If the pilot proves beneficial for patients, and feasible for the NHS, it could revolutionise pre-surgery healthcare.

Dr Kostas Kaliarntas added, “This project gives us exciting opportunities for further collaborations with NHS, placement opportunities for our MSc Clinical Exercise Science and Physical Activity & Health undergraduate students, and potential follow up external funding applications.”

To find out more about becoming a clinical exercise physiologist by studying BSc (Hons) Physical Activity & Health or MSc Clinical Exercise Science at Edinburgh Napier University, click the links.

BSc (Hons) Physical Activity & Health Undergraduate Full-time

MSc Clinical Exercise Science Postgraduate Full-time