Understanding Exercise Physiology

Read on to learn more about Exercise Physiology and how we can help you achieve your goals!

Todd, our Principal Clinician for Physiotherapy and Exercise Physiology, shares his insights and some practical tips for clinicians thinking of becoming an EP!

What is Exercise Physiology?

Let’s break down the term to get a working definition: exercise + physiology.

Exercises are physical activities carried out to improve fitness and wellbeing, while physiology is a branch of biology concerned with how the human body functions.

From these two definitions, you can already see that Exercise Physiology is focused on how exercise affects the body.

Accredited Exercise Physiologists or AEPs are university qualified health professionals that often work within an allied health team. Exercise & Sports Science Australia is the peak professional body and sole accrediting authority for Accredited Exercise Physiologists.

AEPs develop exercise programs for people with a wide variety of disabilities to help them manage their condition and build capacity for activities of daily living. Their knowledge and extensive training also allow them to provide safe and effective tailored exercise programs.

What services do Exercise Physiologists provide?

Exercise Physiologists can provide:

  • Personalised exercise-based therapy for all chronic and non chronic conditions, combined with a commitment to exceptional client care through the use of evidence-based and best practice methods
  • Training and education for family and support workers of participants
  • Assisting participant to participate in community activities and assisting them to transition to public gyms and pool (Hydro)
  • Healthy lifestyle education and development of healthy habits

What services do Exercise Physiologists provide for people with a disability?

EPs are trained to assess individuals and develop an exercise program that takes their health goals and abilities into consideration. EPs can:

  • Assess functional strength and /or balance
  • Recommend exercise equipment
  • Improve physical activity levels and create routine
  • Prescribe individual exercise program based on goals set (strength/ flexibility/ endurance)
  • Help use exercises and physical activity to improve attention span, mood and mental health

How does an Exercise Physiologist differ from a Physiotherapist, particularly when working in the disability sector?

Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists have their own scope of practice and expertise that make them unique. There might be situations where both EP and PT are able to assist a participant, working together to achieve greater outcomes based on the participant’s personal goals. The Physiotherapist will work on gross motor skills such as coordination and gait retraining whilst the EP will work on exercise endurance, strength and aerobic capacity.

How can Exercise Physiologists complement a multidisciplinary team working with a participant?

At Better Rehab, we have Occupational TherapistsSpeech PathologistsPhysiotherapistsPositive Behaviour Support practitioners working alongside EPs under one roof! EPs can assist participants with shared goals, but in different ways. For example, if the participant’s goal is to  access the community independently, the Speech Pathologist on the participant’s care team will work towards improving social interaction and engagement, while the EP will focus on working towards improving the participant’s lower limb strength and endurance so they are able to walk for longer periods unassisted.

Do you have any practical tips for clinicians thinking of becoming an Exercise Physiologist?

Make sure you have a passion for exercise so you can advocate for it, and you must have a passion for supporting and helping people. You can also consider shadowing another EP in different settings to establish what area you want to work in. Working in disability care requires a lot of patience – don’t forget to celebrate both small and big improvements in a person’s ability!

Are you a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist who wants to learn more about working in disability care? Learn more about our mentorship and career development programs. Get your career movin’ with Better Rehab and contact us now!

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