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Exercise is one of the best medicines you can take. It manages pain, improves mobility, treats many chronic conditions and boosts mental health.

For many people, exercise simply means going for a walk or joining the local gym. Sometimes, though, we need a professional to help us exercise safely and effectively, especially if we experience barriers to good health.

This is where an exercise physiologist can help. Here is a quick rundown of what an exercise physiologist does and why you might benefit from their services.

What is an exercise physiologist?

Exercise physiology aims to improve your overall health, treat chronic conditions and provide rehabilitation through exercise.

It is delivered through an allied health professional called a clinical exercise physiologist. More than a coach or personal trainer, an exercise physiologist has detailed knowledge of how the body functions. They can prescribe a scientifically based exercise program – based on your individual needs – in a centre, group setting, or in your own home.

An exercise physiologist can:

  • assess your medical history and lifestyle
  • help you develop your own health goals
  • develop an exercise plan tailored to your needs
  • help you exercise safely and effectively with supervised sessions
  • offer guidance on incorporating exercise into your lifestyle
  • provide rehabilitation exercise programs after injury, illness or surgery
  • help you prepare for and recover from surgery
  • help you make lifestyle and behavioural changes
  • provide health education
  • run group exercise classes
  • offer support for weight loss

Unlike other health professionals, exercise physiologists don’t provide invasive services (e.g. acupuncture), pharmaceutical medication or joint manipulation.

Why might I need to see an exercise physiologist?

There are a number of things you might see an exercise physiologist for (or why your doctor may recommend that you see one). This includes:

Support living with a disability – an exercise physiologist can help you move better and increase your capacity for tasks involved in day-to-day living.

Support as you age – they can provide an exercise program tailored to your needs and show you how to exercise safely with correct technique.

rehabilitation after an injury – this is an important part of the recovery process for regaining movement, strength and endurance.

surgery recovery or preparation – recovering from orthopaedic surgery often requires exercise rehabilitation, or you can build your strength before surgery.

Treatment for a chronic condition – exercise physiology is used to treat over 40 chronic conditions.

Common ones include:

  • Tiểu đường
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure/Hypertension
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Ung thư
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Decreased mobility
  • Depression
  • Stroke
  • Chronic pain
  • Musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Neuromuscular diseases such as multiple sclerosis

Anyone can make an appointment to see an exercise physiologist; you don’t need a referral from your doctor, although sometimes your GP may refer you to one.

If you are interested in accessing an exercise physiologist through HomeCaring, we’d love to help – please get in touch.

What are the benefits of seeing an exercise physiologist?

A clinical exercise physiologist can help you with many things – from pain minimisation and improved movement, to better mental health and disease prevention.

Here are some of the main benefits exercise physiology offers:

Improved mobility, strength and overall health

No matter what your age or ability, appropriate forms of exercise can help you move better, increase your strength and improve your balance. This ultimately helps you build capacity, so you can enjoy quality of life.

Safety when exercising

An accredited exercise physiologist is a university-trained professional who is aware of the safety issues when exercising. They are trained to take into account all of your medical conditions, injuries and limitations, so you know you’re in safe hands.

Effective exercise for your needs

It’s possible to work hard at exercise without getting much value out of it. A health professional can help you exercise in the right way, so you are working as efficiently as possible towards your health goals.

Pain reduction

Studies have shown that exercise can help treat and manage many types of ongoing pain for better quality of life – for example, if you have arthritis, regular exercise can help reduce pain and joint stiffness in affected areas.

Effective rehabilitation

If you’re experienced an injury, illness or major surgery, rehabilitation exercises will most likely be an important part of the recovery process. Done correctly with an exercise physiologist, they can help you rebuild strength, restore motion and prevent further injury.

Manage and prevent chronic diseases

An exercise program can help you manage and reduce the symptoms of chronic conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis or hypertension. A doctor may also recommend seeing an exercise physiologist if you are at risk of developing a chronic disease, to prevent its onset.

Control your weight

If weight is an issue, an exercise physiologist can help you lose weight by prescribing exercises that are both effective and safe. They can also help you make positive behavioural and lifestyle changes to improve your quality of life.

Improve mental health and wellbeing

The research is clear: exercise relieves tension, boosts your energy levels and releases powerful endorphins which can help lift your mood. Participating in a personalised exercise program will have plenty of mental health benefits alongside physical ones.

Exercise physiology and disability

An exercise physiologist can support people living with different types of disabilities, such as autism, multiple sclerosis, amputation, muscular dystrophy, down syndrome, vision/hearing impairment, parkinson’s disease or cerebral palsy.

They do this in many different ways, helping people:

  • increase their mobility and strength
  • improve their balance and walking gait
  • perform daily tasks
  • participate in community activities
  • set and achieve their own physical goals
  • manage pain
  • prevent disease
  • increase physical and mental health
  • manage lifestyle changes as a result of disability

Home Caring’s exercise physiologists can help you make the most out of life. To find out how we can help you live independently, get in touch for a free consultation.

Exercise physiology and the NDIS

You can access accredited physiology services through your NDIS funding, under the Improved Health and Wellbeing and Improved Daily Living category. This includes services such as assessments, therapy sessions, home exercise programs, training of family and support workers, exercise equipment prescription, group exercise and community programs.

For more information about what your NDIS covers and how we can help you make the most of your funding, please get in touch for a FREE consultation.

Exercise physiology and healthy ageing

There are many wonderful things about entering your golden years, but also plenty of challenges. An exercise physiologist can help you manage some of the physical changes that come with ageing – for example, decreased flexibility and loss of mobility – so you feel confident to get on with everyday
life and stay socially connected.

Clinical exercise physiologists can also help treat many chronic diseases. Regular exercise, for example, helps reduce blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels to manage diabetes, makes the heart stronger and helps you prevent developing osteoporosis. Working with an exercise physiologist will make sure that you move in a way that is safe and effective, so you are exercising appropriately according to your needs.

What can I expect on my first visit to an exercise physiologist?

An exercise physiologist develops exercise programs that are uniquely tailored to each person’s health needs and goals. To do this, they will most likely have an initial consultation process with you. This may involve:

  • taking a detailed history of your medical background
  • talking to you about your health needs and lifestyle
  • assessing your functional capability and exercise abilities
  • evaluating any risks or barriers to exercise that you may face

Once they understand your needs, they will help you work out your own individual health goals. This will help them develop a tailored exercise program to safely and effectively meet those goals, taking
your body’s needs into consideration.

How do I know if an exercise physiologist is qualified?

For your own safety, it’s important to make sure you are seeing an accredited exercise physiologist before you start on any exercise program.

Exercise physiologists in Australia have undertaken post-graduate studies in exercise science and rehabilitation at a university. Accreditation is regulated by ESSA (Exercise and Sports Science Australia), the national governing body of Exercise Physiologists in Australia.

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

It can be easy to confuse an exercise physiologist with a physiotherapist, as both occupations sound similar. They both also have a lot in common, as they aim to help people achieve optimal movement and functioning.

One of the main differences is that physiotherapists generally provide ‘hands on’ treatment (e.g. joint manipulation and mobilisation, acupuncture and massage) while exercise physiologists provide ‘hands off’ treatment by implementing clinical exercise programs.

Another difference is that a physiotherapist tends of provide injury diagnosis and prognosis, whereas an exercise physiologist usually receives the diagnosis and provides rehabilitation, including lifestyle education and behaviour modification.

Can kids see an exercise physiologist?

Yes, exercise physiologists treat people of all ages. Children living with a disability like cerebral palsy, autism or juvenile arthritis can benefit from seeing an exercise physiologist to help them increase their function and improve their quality of life.

Where can I find out more?

To find out more about exercise physiology in Australia, visit the websites below:

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA)
Exercise Right (created by ESSA, this site has plenty of information about how to exercise if you are a senior or living with a disability)

To find out how you can access exercise physiology services with your NDIS funding or home care package, get in touch with us at Home Caring today for your FREE consultation.

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