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Exercise physiology is the scientific study and treatment of the body and how it responds to physical activity.
Exercise physiologists (EPs) help people move and exercise their way to a healthier lifestyle. By taking a holistic look at patients’ individual needs, EPs prescribe lifestyle and behavioural modifications to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.
Accredited exercise physiologists have an acute awareness of safety issues associated with each type of physical activity to protect patients from injury. Exercise programs typically include workouts to do at home, in the clinic or hospital, in the gym or the great outdoors. Gentle exercise, such as walking or stretching is an essential aspect of building a strong foundation in exercise physiology.
The medical community recognises exercise physiology as an effective physical treatment for rehabilitation and relief from pain caused by chronic health conditions.
Practitioners believe that regulated and regular exercise can significantly improve physical and mental wellbeing. This is seen in the management of chronic diseases, in rehabilitation and for healthy people looking to take their health to the next level.
Exercise physiology can help with the management or treatment of:
- Common chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression, etc.
- Rehabilitation and recovery from injury, illness, surgery, including exercise programs for strength, flexibility, posture and muscle control.
- Improving body functions, such as metabolic, cardiac, pulmonary, neuromuscular and musculoskeletal.
What do exercise physiologists do?
Accredited exercise physiologists analyse their patient’s fitness and bodily function to improve or maintain their health or recovery. Working with people from all walks of life, an exercise physiologist may work with athletes recovering from an injury, the elderly, those suffering from chronic health conditions and illnesses. Additionally, they work with people with disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy and the general population.
Sessions with an exercise physiologist may include:
- Assessment of functional capacity
- Assessment of workplace/lifestyle
- Advice on holistic lifestyle modifications to improve health
- Exercise prescriptions to improve function and strength pre and post surgery
Why should I see an exercise physiologist?
- If you are at risk of developing or have existing medical conditions or injuries
- If you are an amateur or professional athlete looking to improve movement and decrease chances of injury
- If you are recovering from an injury or an operation
- For those with a disability (e.g. Cerebral Palsy)
- If you have a chronic mental health condition, such as
-Depression and other mental health conditions
- If you would like to improve your physical and mental wellbeing
What’s the difference between an exercise physiologist and a personal trainer?
A personal trainer can help you lose fat and achieve fitness goals in the gym. What sets an exercise physiologist apart is that that they have likely studied at university for four or more years and have a deep knowledge of pathology, the human body and the effects that exercise has on the musculoskeletal, endocrine and cardiovascular systems.
Personal training is suitable for those with generally good health and who don’t have an injury. Exercise physiology, on the other hand, is suitable for people with acute, sub-acute and chronic illness or injury with a need for extra attention whilst exercising. They prescribe a course of exercises for both fitness and rehabilitation and the treatment of medical conditions such as obesity, arthritis, depression, and asthma, amongst many others.
While both aim to improve your physical health, exercise physiology is a more advanced, specified yet holistic approach to physical and mental wellbeing.
What training is required to become an exercise physiologist?
You must study at university and complete a four-year degree in exercise physiology. Alternatively, if your university does not offer a degree in exercise physiology, you can undertake another accredited degree, such as a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science or a Bachelor of Applied Science, then apply for membership to Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA).
What conditions can exercise physiology treat?
Exercise physiology treats a broad range of medical conditions. Many of which are preventable and treatable.
It can assist with:
- Chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, arthritis)
- Musculoskeletal imbalances (e.g. pain in joints)
- Chronic respiratory diseases and asthma
- Risk factor management (pre-diabetic and high cholesterol, hypertension, physical activity levels, dietary education)
- Neurological conditions (Parkinson’s, dementia, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, depression and anxiety)
What happens in an exercise physiology session?
During your first consultation with an exercise physiologist, they will comprehensively assess your health/exercise history and goals. Practitioners will ask a number of questions to gain a clearer understanding of your unique situation.
Be sure to bring any paperwork or tests provided by your doctor, if applicable. After question time comes the physical assessment. You will be asked to carry out a range of movements to assess body composition, flexibility, posture, balance and functional capacity.
Now, your exercise physiologist will be equipped with the information they need to create a plan to move forward and help you reach your goals. It is recommended to wear something loose and comfortable so that you can move with ease. In some instances, you may be referred to another health or medical professional.
The next step will be carrying out the exercise plans outlined by your exercise physiologist. This may be at home, in the clinic or at the gym.
From here, you will have regular check-ups and training sessions with your exercise physiologist to see how you are progressing. Your current health status will be logged to track progress and to determine the next steps.
Throughout the journey, your exercise physiologist will guide you on how to take control of your health. This may include collaborative goal setting, managing possible barriers, plans to manage medication or treatment and a plan that will help you achieve a stronger and healthier body.
Remember that your exercise physiologist’s main goal is to equip you with the tools, mindset and knowledge you need to holistically improve your physical and mental health.
What are some common exercise physiology techniques?
Each exercise program is tailored to the client and their goals, but it generally includes cardio exercise and resistance (weight) training. Programs are made to improve the quality of life for the patient.
Will Medicare cover my exercise physiology session?
According to Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA), Medicare Australia provides a selection of Medicare rebates for services provided by an accredited exercise physiologist.
MBS BENEFIT (85%)
Aboriginal Health Services
Chronic disease management
Team Care Arrangement – Exercise physiology
Type 2 diabetes
Exercise Physiology – Assessment for group services
Type 2 diabetes
Exercise Physiology – Group services
Those eligible for the Chronic Disease Management (CDM) program can access up to five subsidised exercise physiology sessions through Medicare. Full payment is required at the consultation and you will be given a receipt to claim your Medicare rebate.
Can I claim exercise physiology through my private health provider?
Exercise physiology is covered under most major private health funds. The amount covered can vary depending on the provider, policies and level of cover chosen. Generally, there is a payable gap. To learn more about if your private health provider covers exercise physiology, contact them today or check out the ESSA’s private health insurance factsheet below!
What should I wear to my exercise physiology class?
Most exercise physiology classes will be conducted in a gym or studio. Be sure to bring appropriate gym attire and a towel with you. Wear clothing that allows the exercise physiologist to assess any problem areas, such as sore knees or lower back pain
How many exercise physiology sessions will I need?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise physiology. Some clients enjoy one-on-one sessions on a continuous basis, whereas others feel they have enough knowledge and skills after a few sessions to continue their programs at home or in the gym. It largely depends on the complexity of the individual’s physical or mental condition when they start and as they progress.
What is the difference between an exercise physiologist and a physiotherapist?
There is some overlap between the fields of exercise physiology and physiotherapy, but there are some differences. Think of it this way: a physiotherapist aims at reducing symptoms whereas an exercise physiologist Melbourne clinic will aim at increasing the body’s level of functioning.
Both fields focus on strengthening and toning, teaching the body to carry and distribute its own weight correctly, reducing pain and improving function. But while physiotherapy has a dozen techniques and forms of therapy to try, exercise physiology uses only exercise. For example, a physiotherapist may recommend massage, heat or cold therapy, acupuncture or dry needling and a range of other types of treatment. The best exercise physiologist Melbourne offers will not prescribe any of the above forms.
What does exercise physiology mean?
An exercise physiologist Melbourne clinic will provide a targeted exercise program that is custom-designed to address the health concerns of the individual. It can be used for fixing and realigning structural issues, strengthening parts of the body that are not bearing loads correctly, managing chronic health conditions, and tackling metabolic complaints.
Read our blog post to understand what does an exercise physiologist do?
Many people believe that something that sounds as serious as exercise physiology must be reserved for career athletes or sportspeople who are injured. But in reality, no matter your background or complaint, an exercise physiologist Melbourne clinic is a good way to address a health condition through specific exercise plans.
What is exercise physiology suitable for?
Exercise physiology may be recommended to those with the following conditions:
- Chronic pain
- Mental health issues like depression or anxiety
- Fibromyalgia, osteoporosis or arthritis
- Lung and respiratory disorders
- Diabetes or cardiac trouble
- Misaligned posture or load management issues
How much does an exercise physiologist cost?
An average exercise physiologist Melbourne offers will cost about $80 and onwards for 45 mins to an hour. An average session will include supervised exercise, assessment of the client’s progress, and an evaluation of the healing or recovery process.
However the costs depend on many factors, including the qualifications and size of the clinic or practitioner you visit, the kind of treatment you need, and more. Do check with your EP of choice for approximate costs before making a booking.
How effective is exercise physiology?
The medical community believes that exercise physiology is a scientific and proven way to manage chronic conditions, rehabilitate clients who are recovering from injuries or recent surgery, and improve functions of the body like the metabolism or cardiac function.
If you book exercise physiology, you should know that recovery is in your hands. You will be getting professional advice and supervision during your session but it is important that you also follow instructions in your daily life too.
Can I just do more exercise?
Exercising at the gym or on your own will have a significant impact on your health and can help prevent many illnesses or reduce the effects of existing health conditions. Eating a balanced diet will also help keep you healthy. But this is not the same as consulting an exercise physiologist for a specific problem.
The best exercise physiologist Melbourne offers is not the same as a personal trainer. They undergo 4-5 years of focused academic studying to qualify as a professional and are certified to help clients who are referred by doctors, podiatrists, physiotherapists or occupational therapists. When they recommend a plan, it involves rehabilitation exercises that work on your cardiovascular system and endocrine system as well as your musculoskeletal structure.
How do I find an exercise physiologist in Melbourne?
If you prefer to find an exercise physiologist Melbourne clinic through referral, your doctor or social circle is a good place to start. But do ensure that you are consulting an exercise physiologist who is certified to treat the conditions you want to work on.
Alternatively you can start your search right here on our site. We have listings for top exercise physiologist Melbourne offers, including those who specialize in treatment for various conditions including:
- Diabetes (Type 1 and 2)
- Cardiac disease
- Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis
- Depression or stress-related mental conditions
- Chronic fatigue, chronic pain
When you meet an exercise physiologist for the first time, you will be asked about your medical and health history. It helps to know in advance what you want to achieve with these sessions so that you can provide a goal for the professional to plan towards.
Be prepared for a physical assessment too. The exercise physiologist will need to understand your mobility and strength levels before prescribing a course of treatment. You may be asked to perform some exercises to demonstrate your capabilities.
Once you begin treatment, the exercise physiologist will conduct supervised sessions and may also ask you to exercise at home. For some health conditions or goals, dietary or lifestyle changes may be required.
The long-term benefits of exercise physiology
Apart from providing a natural, non-invasive solution to specific conditions or offering more efficient management of chronic conditions, there are significant long-term benefits of exercise physiology too.
You’ll learn how to treat and heal your body: Exercise physiology helps you learn how your body works and what it needs to heal. For example, if you have chronic lower back pain, there may be a specific set of exercises that ease the pain and strengthen the muscles of that area. After the recommended number of sessions, you will be able to work out on your own and recognise the symptoms of an oncoming pain attack before they become serious.
You will learn how to control or moderate your body’s reactions: If you consult an exercise physiologist for diabetes or weight loss, you will learn the dietary and exercise methods that your body needs to keep the condition under control. Aided by an expert, you will try various methods and understand what works for you. This knowledge can help you all your life.
You will appreciate the effects of exercise: Some people love exercise but for many people, it is a necessary evil. With an exercise physiologist to advise you, you may not learn to love exercising, but you will learn the most effective exercises for your health and fitness. This will help you get the best results and save time experimenting with different kinds of workouts.