Exercise physiologists are professionals in the allied health sector that help individuals understand how the human body responds to exercise. While many may think they have the same job as a personal trainer or a gym instructor, they do much more than that.
Exercise physiologists have expert knowledge of the human body and the many benefits of exercise, both mentally and physically, especially in the context of injury, pain, and disability. They also apply their knowledge of the body with a more therapeutic approach to improve their patients’ quality of life, disease management, and even treatment outcomes.
So how does an exercise physiologist differ from a physiotherapist? It can get confusing as there are areas of their work that overlap. However, physiotherapists emphasise diagnosis and assessment of diseases, while exercise physiologists emphasise improving functional capacities of the body by focusing on chronic disease management.
What Services Do Exercise Physiologists Provide?
Exercise physiologists give people information about their exercise routines to manage and prevent injuries as well as chronic conditions. They also create specific exercise programs and counsel about maintaining an active lifestyle by ensuring that the exercise programs are safe, effective, and appropriate for their patients.
Many of these professionals also provide rehabilitation services. They work with individuals recovering from a range of conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic pain, and sometimes even depression and cancer.
Exercise physiologists analyse people’s fitness level to help them improve or maintain good health. Some also help amateur and professional athletes to boost their performance in their sport. They use stress tests and other tools to evaluate cardiovascular function and metabolism and can help design a fitness plan to meet their client’s goals or needs.
The services they provide include the following:
- Administering exercise stress tests.
- Evaluating overall health, including cardiovascular function and metabolism.
- Developing individualised exercise programs.
- Designing customised programs to meet healthcare needs and performance goals.
What Are the Benefits of Having an Exercise Physiologist?
- Evidence-Based Strategies – Exercise physiology is research-based, and thus, proven scientific reasoning developed to help people gain more control over their bodies based on their needs and requirements.
- Experienced Professionals – Exercise physiologists are highly-trained professionals who undergo a four-year degree course as well as several internships, which ensure that they can provide patients with specialised knowledge based on experience.
- Medication Through Exercise – Exercise is used to treat different types of psychiatric, neurological, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases. Exercise physiologists are specifically trained to develop exercises based on the needs and requirements of their clients, thus prescribing them with routines that offer little to no side effects. With their skill set, exercise physiologists are allowed to work in various settings, such as hospitals, medical centres, care organisations, occupational rehabilitation clinics, sports teams, and sometimes even community fitness centres.
As the elderly population increases, the need for exercise physiologists will also increase. Although it is a young profession and considered small with only 6,000 accredited professionals in Australia, the number is expected to grow each year at a rate of ten to fifteen per cent.