What’s the difference between Exercise Physiology and Physiotherapy?

Rather than being roped in by buzz words when it comes to your health, it’s good to know which health professionals can assist you the most. When recovering from an injury or trying to prevent one from happening by strengthening your body, you don’t want to be taking risks.  Exercise physiologists and physiotherapists are health professionals you can trust, that hold the knowledge, qualifications and skills to best care for you and your body.

Okay, so they’re both health professionals, but what’s the difference between what they do?

Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) and Physiotherapists are both university qualified allied health professionals. However, AEPs specialise in exercise and movement for the prevention and management of chronic diseases, injuries and complex medical conditions (Healthywa.wa.gov.au, 2018).

physiotherapist and exercise physiologist

Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs)

AEPs typically work with conditions such as (but not limited to): heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, delaying cognitive decline, some cancers, lower back pain, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis (Exercise Right, 2018).

They possess extensive knowledge, skills and experience in clinical exercise delivery and health-behaviour change counselling for people with chronic diseases or injury (Exercise Right, 2018).  This is what differentiates them from other allied health professionals.

There is vast scope working as an accredited exercise physiologist. Industries or organisations that include exercise physiologist roles:

  • public and private hospitals settings
  • primary, secondary and tertiary health care
  • within private and multidisciplinary clinics
  • population health
  • workplace health and rehabilitation
  • ageing and aged care
  • fitness centres, gymnasiums, business
  • sporting clubs (this. Deakin University, 2018)

An AEPs skills are particularly well received by clients who are looking to age well and age independently.

physiotherapist and exercise physiologist newcastle

How do you become an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP)?

AEPs undertake a minimum of 4 years equivalent study at an Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) Level 7 or above in the area of clinical exercise physiology and are required to meet an extensive accreditation process that includes practicum experience in a range of settings and environments. To maintain their accreditation, AEPs have annual requirements for professional practice and professional development (Accredited Exercise Physiologist Scope of Practice, 2018).


Physiotherapy is the treatment of injury, disease and disorders through physical methods — such as exercise, massage, manipulation and other treatments (Health Times, 2018).

Physiotherapists work across a range of health settings including:

  • private practices
  • public and private hospitals settings
  • community health centres
  • residential aged care facilities
  • sporting clubs (Allied Health Professions Australia, 2018)

How do you become a physiotherapist?

To qualify as a physiotherapist, practitioners must complete a bachelor, masters or professional doctorate program. They must also complete supervised practice in a clinical setting. Physiotherapists are required by law to be registered under the National Physiotherapy Board of Australia. Members of the Australian Physiotherapy Association must also complete continuing professional development (Allied Health Professions Australia, 2018).

Physiotherapists help you recover from injury, reduce pain and stiffness, increase mobility and prevent further injury.

AEPs and physiotherapists both assist clients to develop safe, effective, individualised exercise interventions.

Find the right treatment at Transcend Health

We listen to your unique wants and needs and focus on your goals to tailor your experience. We incorporate exercise, goal setting, dietary advice and education to provide a holistic, patient-focused approach. Get in touch with our exercise physiologists and physiotherapists for an individualised solution. Call us on 02  4961 3399 or email us at hello@transcendhealth.com.au.

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