The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines the clinical exercise physiologist as someone who:
“…works in the application of exercise and physical activity for those clinical and pathological situations where it has shown to provide therapeutic or functional benefit.”
AAESS Accredited Exercise Physiologists have advanced skills to assess clients, to develop and monitor a safe and effective exercise or rehabilitation program, regardless of client’s medical history or present fitness levels.
An Exercise Physiologist is ideally suited to providing professional services in the area of exercise as a treatment strategy in physical rehabilitation, as a preventative strategy for disease prevention, and work hardening as part of establishing and sustaining functional independence”.
So how do an Exercise Physiologist’s practices differ to those of a Physiotherapist?
- An Exercise Physiologist does not treat patients with a “hands on” approach, meaning they do not treat ‘acute injuries’,
- An Exercise Physiologist prescribes exercise programs and provide advice on health, fitness and how it relates to the patients current physical capacities and/or medical condition,
- An Exercise Physiologist can assist in rehabilitating a patient from injury, but only when they have received adequate physiotherapy treatment and when that treatment has been deemed to be no longer necessary.
- A Physiotherapist assists the patient in managing their acute injury and regaining range of movement/mobility of their injured body part.
- An Exercise Physiologist will often see a patient after they have regained their mobility and require a specific functional exercise program to assist in regaining their strength and muscular endurance in the injured body part.
- Exercise Physiologist’s are specialists in assisting patients manage their medical condition through the means of exercise. Participating in some form of regular exercise helps a person’s body better control their medical condition and exercise has also been shown to decrease a person’s need to rely solely on their medication.
- An Exercise Physiologist also can assist a person in improving their physical and functional tolerances to enable them to return to their pre-injury duties, to improve their fitness to commence a new physically demanding job or even to complete daily activities of life. How An Exercise Physiologist does this is by prescribing an exercise program aimed at not only improving a person’s physical strength, but also their functional strength (work fitness). An Exercise Physiologist designs the client’s exercise program specifically to imitate their job tasks at home and/or work, therefore enabling them to recover faster from injury or surgery.