What is an Exercise Physiologist

An exercise physiologist is a trained allied health professional who studies the body’s response to exercise. Exercise physiologists assess their patients’ fitness to help
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Exercise Physiologist

An exercise physiologist is a trained allied health professional who studies the body’s response to exercise.

Exercise physiologists assess their patients’ fitness to help them improve or maintain their health. They assist patients suffering from heart disease and other chronic health conditions such as diabetes or pulmonary (lung) disease in regaining their health. They also help amateur and professional athletes who want to improve their performance.

Exercise physiologists are employed by sports medicine and athletic training facilities to develop programs that assist athletes in reducing the number of injuries they sustain and recovering faster from them.

Athletic equipment manufacturers hire exercise physiologists to design sports equipment. Exercise physiologists can also work as sports or athletic performance consultants.

Exercise physiologists may also work as clinicians, exercise managers, sports directors, program coordinators, coaches or trainers, rehabilitation specialists, wellness directors, or other capacities associated with exercise prescription and physical activity.


What is the difference between a physiotherapist and an exercise physiologist?

Although there are some similarities, they are not the same. It can be challenging to distinguish between a physiotherapist and an exercise physiologist because they are not mutually exclusive. Both can work in a wide range of settings, so there’s some overlap. 

Physiotherapists and exercise physiologists are allied health professionals who have completed at least four years of university study; however, their areas of expertise differ.

Exercise physiologists use evidence-based movement and exercise interventions to prevent and manage chronic diseases, musculoskeletal injuries, and weight management. To achieve the best results for their clients, exercise physiologists frequently collaborate with a team of doctors, physiotherapists, and other allied health professionals.

Physiotherapists can diagnose various medical conditions and treat musculoskeletal problems, relieve pain, restore function, and manage chronic diseases using multiple methods, including exercise.


Is an exercise physiologist the same as a personal trainer?

A personal trainer or gym instructor is not the same as an exercise physiologist. Exercise physiologists are tertiary educated individuals who thoroughly understand the human body, including the benefits and disadvantages of physical activity, both mentally and physically.

This is true not only in terms of fitness but also in terms of injury, chronic disease, pain, and disability.

Exercise physiologists use their knowledge in a therapeutic setting to improve quality of life, disease management, and treatment outcomes in all populations.

This skill set enables them to work in various settings, including hospitals, medical centres, community care organisations, occupational rehabilitation, sports teams, and community fitness centres.

Exercise Physiologist

When should I see an exercise physiologist?

A person may benefit from consulting an accredited exercise physiologist for various reasons. These include chronic disease management referrals following the diagnosis of a variety of medical conditions, such as:

  • Neurological disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Metabolic disease
  • Depression and other mental health conditions
  • Musculoskeletal disorder (including arthritis, osteoporosis/osteopenia, acute and chronic musculoskeletal issues)


Services offered by an exercise physiologist

Exercise physiologists work with people who have or are recovering from various medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic pain, depression, and cancer.

Prescription of tailored exercise programs, promotion of leisure time and incidental activity, and counselling to reduce sedentary behaviour are all services provided. This will include an evaluation to ensure that the training is safe, effective, and likely to be sustained in the long term.

Furthermore, a variety of services are provided by accredited exercise physiologists, including behavioural coaching, health education, exercise counselling, and physical rehabilitation.


Accredited exercise physiologists can also help with the following:

  • Advice on modifying one’s lifestyle to improve one’s health.
  • Functional capacity evaluations.
  • Workplace evaluations.
  • Exercise prescriptions for pre-and post-surgery strength and function improvement.


An exercise physiology assessment

An exercise physiologist evaluates a patient’s cardiovascular function and metabolism using stress tests and other evaluation tools.  A fitness plan is then designed to meet the patient’s goals and needs, such as building endurance and strength and increasing fitness and flexibility.

Certified exercise physiologists are qualified health professionals, highly educated in the following areas:

  • Examining a person’s overall health, paying particular attention to cardiovascular function and metabolism.
  • Creating personalised exercise plans to improve physical fitness, strength, endurance, and flexibility
  • Executing exercise stress tests on both healthy and unhealthy populations.
  • Creating customised exercise programs to meet the needs of healthcare and athletic performance goals.
  • Examining a person’s overall health, paying particular attention to cardiovascular function and metabolism.

Exercise Physiologist

Final thoughts

An exercise physiologist is a medical professional who provides people with exercise information and advice to help them manage and prevent injuries and chronic conditions. 

They design individual exercise programs, offer advice on maintaining an active lifestyle, and ensure that exercise programs are safe, effective, and appropriate for the individual.


Do you have a chronic condition? We can assist you in understanding how to exercise efficiently for various illnesses and injuries. Book an appointment with Home Physio Melbourne today!


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