There are loads of health professionals out there who can help you achieve your health and fitness goals. From Massage Therapists, to Nutritionists, Dieticians, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Sports Doctors, Natural Medicine Practitioners, to Yoga Instructors and Spin Cycle Trainers. They are all able to help you on your individual path of health and wellbeing. One of the most useful health professionals to help you in finding the right exercise program for you is an Exercise Physiologist. As the name suggests, they are experts in the science of exercise and how exercise can be used to achieve health and wellbeing.
How is an Exercise Physiologist different to a Personal Trainer?
While a Personal Trainer is excellent on the gym floor and is able to give you a good guide in your exercise plan, an Exercise Physiologist has further knowledge in injury management and chronic health problems. Personal Trainers can be qualified by any number of bodies that are not all equal. It might take 6weeks to 6months to complete a Personal Trainer certification. An Exercise Physiologist can only be accredited through Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA). They must have undertaken a 3-4 year university degree in Exercise Physiology, Exercise Science, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science. This means they have studied the body extensively and have knowledge in disease processes, and how to maintain health through exercise. An Exercise Physiologist may also have completed a certification as a Personal Trainer which enables them to have further knowledge in equipment prescription and correct use.
To maintain accreditation with ESSA, an Exercise Physiologist is required to:
- Hold and maintain a valid first aid and CPR certificate
- Hold and maintain appropriate professional indemnity insurance
- Complete an annual continuing professional program comprising 20 points per annum
- Uphold the ESSA Code of Professional Conduct and Ethical Practice
How is an Exercise Physiologist different to a Physiotherapist?
Physiotherapists are experts in the biomechanics of the body. If your body is injured or limited in some way, a Physiotherapist can help to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate to good function once again. An Exercise Physiologist can work alongside a Physiotherapist by focusing on using exercise as a means of rehabilitation and way to health. An Exercise Physiologist can map out an individual exercise plan by taking into consideration the medical limitations you might have. While the focus of a Physiotherapist might be to get you walking again after an ACL repair, the focus of an Exercise Physiologist might be to keep you exercising throughout your rehabilitation period and get you back to your exercise goals once you are walking and running again. Exercise Physiologists want to see individuals exercising long into their old age.
Exercise Physiologists main focus is to prevent chronic disease through exercise. In 2011-12 over half (62.8%) of Australians 18 years and over were overweight or obese. This is a staggering amount that means that a lot of the diseases related to excess weight and obesity are easily treatable. Conditions such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure can all be treated and prevented by exercise. Exercise Physiologists are experts in getting you exercising despite the hurdles you may have. They understand that each person is an individual with different physical, mental and social obstacles that make regular exercise a challenge. Just like a Dietician can help you to tailor make a diet plan to help you lose weight, or meet individual nutritional needs, an Exercise Physiologist can tailor make an exercise plan just for you.
If you struggle to maintain an exercise program, an Exercise Physiologist can help you to change behaviour to maintain one into your old age. They love to see people exercising well for their health to remain independent into old age. Exercise Physiologists can help you build skills such as flexibility and problem solving to cope with lifestyle demands that will help you stick to an exercise plan your whole lifetime. Maintenance is a key goal for Exercise Physiologists. With the elderly population on the rise and modern lifestyles being quite busy and sedentary, Exercise Physiologists will be more and more helpful as the years go by.
Can I benefit from an Exercise Physiologist?
Exercise Physiologist can be of lifetime use to you if you suffer from any of the following conditions:
- heart disease
- mental illness
- cognitive decline
- some cancers
- lower back pain
They will use their knowledge and skills in exercise prescription to help you manage your health independently, no matter what the hurdle you may face. They will help you exercise whether you like the gym or you don’t like the gym. Whether or not you have lots of disposable time or you have next to none. They are experts in functional fitness and will help you find what will work for you. An Exercise Physiologist will take into account your whole life picture and help you insert exercise as a key feature in it.