What is Exercise Physiology?
Exercise physiology is a branch of health science, particularly aligned with exercise and sport science, which studies the human body’s response to physical activity and the ways in which the body adapts to physical activity over time.
Practitioners of exercise physiology utilise exercise therapy, which uses exercise and movement at the correct intensity, for the optimal duration, to:
- increase physical and mental health
- improve quality of life
- assist in the effective prevention and management of a variety of mental and physical conditions.
Scientific research has proven that different kinds of exercise are well-suited to treating or preventing different kinds of medical or physical conditions, and practitioners of exercise physiology have extensive training and practical experience in determining which forms of exercise are most appropriate for each individual.
What is an Exercise Physiologist?
Exercise physiologists are allied health professionals specialising in clinical exercise interventions for the prevention and management of health conditions. They use extensive clinical and physiological knowledge, evidence-based practice, and exercise therapy to treat a wide variety of health issues, including (but not limited to):
- Overweight and obesity
- Chronic pain, such as lower back pain
- Chronic Kidney disease
- Arthritis and osteoporosis
- Diabetes Type I & II
- High blood pressure
- Mental health conditions, such as stress, anxiety, and depression
- Pulmonary (lung) conditions, including COPD
- Cardiovascular conditions, including heart disease
- Neuromuscular conditions
- Rehabilitation following musculoskeletal injury, stroke, heart attack, and surgery
Is An Exercise Physiologist The Same As a Personal Trainer?
Exercise physiologists are not the same as personal trainers. Exercise physiologists need to have the relevant degree, be registered health practitioners, have an in-depth knowledge of human physiology and disease processes, have extensive training in exercise therapy and prescription, and have hundreds of hours of practical experience, developed over the course of several years’ study.
Is An Exercise Physiologist The Same As a Physiotherapist?
Similarly, exercise physiologists are not the same physiotherapists – although there is often some cross-over between the two professions. Physiotherapists have a greater focus on identifying and assessing disease processes and disabilities and alleviating acute symptoms associated with physical conditions.
Exercise physiologists, on the other hand, tend to focus on management or prevention of chronic disease, using exercise as a therapeutic intervention to improve quality of life and increase an individual’s functional capacity over time.
In addition to exercise therapies to treat muscular and joint issues, exercise physiologists are often able to suggest effective exercise therapies for treating conditions and disease processes not traditionally treated by physiotherapists.
What does an Exercise Physiologist do?
Exercise physiologists develop customised exercise programs to address identified issues and achieve specific outcomes. They may work in consultation with a physiotherapist to prescribe exercise-based interventions or therapies to improve health, wellbeing, strength and conditioning, and performance.
Exercise physiologists may use a range of methodologies to assess a person’s overall health, paying particular attention to cardiovascular function, metabolism, and individual capability, in order to develop a targeted fitness plan. This individualised exercise regimen is prescribed to suit each client’s specific health care needs or athletic performance goals, with respect to flexibility, endurance, strength, and physical fitness.
Where Does An Exercise Physiologist Work?
Exercise physiologists often practise within physiotherapy practices, hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, sports medicine facilities, and athletic training facilities. In clinical/medical settings they provide supervised exercise programs for patients suffering from severe conditions and chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart and lung diseases, and clinical obesity. In non-clinical settings, such as gyms, they work with healthy to moderately healthy individuals to help them lose weight, improve their overall health, or reach higher/peak levels of physical fitness.
What Training Or Qualifications Do Exercise Physiologists Require?
Exercise physiologists are university-qualified practitioners who have either undertaken a 3 or 4 year Bachelor’s degree of Science. Some exercise physiologists will have a clinical Exercise Physiology degree while others may have 3 or 4 year degree in an associated degree course, such as a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Applied Science, Bachelor of Exercisv e and Sport Science.
Once the basic knowledge has been acquired through the degree course, those wishing to practise within the profession need to register with ESSA (Exercise & Sports Science Australia).
Are Exercise Physiologists registered or accredited?
To achieve accreditation as an AEP an individual must:
- Graduate from a recognised bachelor qualification that is accredited by ESSA.
- Meet the professional standards for exercise science, including140 hours of practical experience in undertaking exercise interventions to improve health, fitness, performance, or wellbeing, or to prevent chronic conditions (leading to accreditation as an AES).
- Meet the professional standards for exercise physiology, including 360 hours of practical experience in working with clients who have clinical conditions, such as musculoskeletal, neurological, metabolic, cardiovascular, or pulmonary (lung) conditions.
To maintain ESSA accreditation as an AEP an individual must abide by the ESSA Code of Professional Conduct and Ethical Practice and fulfil several other requirements on an ongoing basis, including maintaining current knowledge of best practice and treatment standards by participating in mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) further education activities.
When should I see an Exercise Physiologist?
There are a number of situations in which it might be beneficial for you to consult an accredited exercise physiologist. You may decide independently that you wish to consult an exercise physiologist, or your GP may refer you to an exercise physiologist for:
- treatment of an injury
- improvement of functional capacity and strength pre- or post-operatively
- prevention of a health condition of which you are deemed as being at risk
- management of a diagnosed disease or condition
- assessment of your functional capacity, e.g., as part of a pre-employment or return to work assessment
- advice on lifestyle modifications and exercise therapies to improve your health status
- advice on beginning an exercise program or returning to an exercise program after an extended break.
Exercise Physiology at Transcend Health
If you are looking to begin, or return to, a physical exercise program, it’s important to consult a physical health practitioner before you start in order to ensure you move safely and undertake the right exercises for your individual physical fitness needs.
The exercise physiologists at Transcend Health can design a personalised, therapeutic exercise program to help you prevent or manage health conditions, lose weight, treat pain and injuries, and improve your overall fitness, health, and wellbeing.
If you’d like to find out more about exercise physiology and how it can help you achieve your personal health and fitness goals, call Transcend Health on 02 4961 3399 or visit them online at transcendhealth.com.au (just click here). Alternatively, complete our online contact form to send us a message and one of our team will contact you shortly.