What is Exercise Physiology and What Does an Exercise Physiologist Do?
Updated: Mar 24
We get asked this question all the time. So we thought we'd write an article about 'what is exercise physiology and what does an Exercise Physiologist' do to answer these questions and to hopefully provide some useful background information for our patients, referrers and site visitors.
Exercise Physiology is an area of speciality in the allied health sector, which focus on clinical exercise interventions for people experiencing a broad range of health issues or injuries, or for people who may be at risk of developing chronic medical conditions and injuries.
The Aims of Exercise Physiology
The aims of exercise physiology are to prevent or manage acute or chronic disease or injury and to assist in restoring physical function, health and wellness.
What Does an Exercise Physiologist Do?
An Exercise Physiologist will 'prescribe interventions' (think of a custom program with related treatments) are exercise-based and include health and physical activity education, advice and support and lifestyle modification with a strong focus on achieving behavioural change.
Exercise Physiologists can provide exercise interventions for cardiac, metabolic, musculoskeletal, respiratory, weight management, and neurological conditions, but also many mental health conditions and disabilities, and to manage the side effects of many intensive drug therapies.
Exercise Physiologists have the knowledge and skills required to address health challenges and fitness needs for patients in a medical setting. Exercise Physiologists consider both clinical practice guidelines and the client’s individual health goals and circumstances when developing a personalised exercise program.
What is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist?
Accredited Exercise Physiologists are university qualified allied health professionals who specialise in evaluation of or creation of personalised exercise interventions, lifestyle behaviour change and education for people with chronic health conditions. To gain accreditation, the Exercise Physiologist must:
have successfully graduated from a minimum of 4 years university;
have at least 140 hours of practical experience in undertaking exercise interventions to improve health and fitness, wellbeing or performance, or focus on prevention of chronic conditions; and must
meet the professional standards for exercise physiology, including 360 hours of practical experience with clients with clinical conditions (eg. cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, musculoskeletal, neurological). (Source: ESSA - Exercise & Sports Science Australia).
How Do You Access an Exercise Physiologist?
If you have a health condition, you can ask your doctor for a referral to an Exercise Physiologist under a Chronic Disease Management Plan, which will give you up to five Medicare-subsidised visits per year.
If you have receive treatment in hospital, you may be referred to an Exercise Physiologist for ongoing recovery support including cardiac rehabilitation, post-operative rehabilitation, and advice on what types of exercises are safe for you during your recovery process.
Most private health insurance companies also provide rebates for Exercise Physiology services aimed at preventing, delaying, or treating an injury or chronic health condition.
What Are The Benefits of Exercise Physiology?
Exercise Can Make You Smile More :-)
Exercise improves mental health and can manage factors that are often associated with mental illness including medication-induced weight gain, poor mobility, inadequate nutrition and smoking and alcohol consumption.
Exercise as a Self-Management Strategy
Exercise Physiologists can provide methods for self-management strategies for people with osteoarthritis including lifestyle modifications and appropriate exercises to minimise joint loading and pain, improve joint strength, function and overall mobility of arthritic joints.
Exercise Physiologists have the knowledge and skills to develop safe exercise programs for people with diabetes to prevent exercise-induced hypoglycaemia, and take into consideration ulcers, nephropathy, hypertension, breathing difficulties, and falls risks. An appropriate exercise program including aerobic and strength exercises can improve glycaemic control, blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.
It's Best Practice
The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia recommends best practice cancer care to include referral to an Exercise Physiologist to help counteract the adverse effects of cancer and cancer treatments, to reduce fatigue, increase muscle strength, physical function and improved quality of life.
The Body Agility Exercise Physiology team can assist you / or your Participants, with gentle exercises to regain range of movement, including mobilisation of soft tissue structures and restoration of joint mobility and strength to optimise function.