Should You See an Exercise Physiologist, Physio or Personal Trainer?

What does an Exercise Physiologist do, and would you be better suited to working with a Physio, Exercise Physiologist or Personal Trainer?

The answer to this question really depends on you and what your needs are. If you are you looking improve your performance in the form of lifting heavier weights, running more or simply losing weight, a personal trainer might be right for you.

However if for example you recently experience a traumatic injury causing you significant pain, it would be wise to see a Physio.

But, if you currently have high blood pressure, have diabetes or a long-term condition that you need clarity on, these would put you in the bracket of coming to see an Exercise Physiologist. 

Exercise Physiologist

There is often confusion around what an Exercise Physiologist is and virtually all Accredited Exercise Physiologist’s (AEP’S) would likely have heard the phrase:

“Aren’t you just a glorified personal trainer…”

However, this phrase couldn’t be further from the truth, and it’s nothing against Personal Trainers because a lot of Exercise Physiologist’s have a personal training background and PT’s play an important role in keeping individuals healthy and active.

So, What Do Exercise Physiologist Actually Do? 

Exercise Physiologist’s use clinical exercise interventions as a treatment to help clients with a wide variety of conditions from: 

  • Musculoskeletal Injuries and conditions including arthritis, osteoporosis/osteopenia, acute and/or chronic musculoskeletal issues 
  • Chronic Disease Management including cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, metabolic disease, neurological disease 
  • Depression and Mental Health conditions 
  • Cancer 

Exercise Physiologist’s specialise in treating chronic health conditions (>6 months) but aren’t limited to treating sub-acute injuries/conditions. They receive extension training in the physiology of metabolic and cardiovascular health conditions to be able to provide effective treatment with individuals with these conditions. 

Why Exercise Physiology and Not a Personal Trainer?

Personal trainers work with the healthy population to help clients achieve performance goals or personal goals. This includes weight loss, building muscle and strength or to improve their performance like such as their endurance.

A personal trainer’s role is imperative in preventative management, keeping individuals healthy and active. 

Why Don’t I Just Go See a Physiotherapist?  

Physiotherapist’s are a great first point of contact if you have an acute or sub-acute injury (first 3-6 months) as they are able to assess and provide a diagnosis whereas an Exercise Physiologist cannot. From there, a treatment plan is devised to help reduce your pain and improve your movement.

Physiotherapist’s are allowed to send a referral to order medical imaging and are trained to view and infer those imaging. 

I’m Still Not Sure About What Exercise Physiologist’s Do… Can You Elaborate?

Ok, let’s take a dive into how an Exercise Physiologist could help you in your rehabilitation journey. 

Like how a doctor can prescribe a ‘dose’ of medication if you are sick, an exercise physiology will provide a ‘dose’ of exercise as a treatment. For an example, if an older female presents with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and knee pain, the dose of exercise treatment will be considerably different to a young female with no other medical issues presenting with lower back pain. 

A key role for an exercise physiologist is to understanding the individual’s medical history, their condition/injury, them as a person, their goals and understanding what they know about their condition. This will guide an exercise physiologist in providing an individualised exercise treatment program and the optimal treatment “dose”.

The main goal with exercise physiology is to help individuals improve their quality of life by ensuring they are able to complete their needs such as their activities of daily living (ADLs) and to help them achieve their functional goals such as improving their distance with walking, carrying groceries, doing tasks around the house and other goals like returning to highly functional tasks including playing golf and swimming. 

We address the barriers and weaknesses and provide strategies alongside exercise to bridge the gap between where you currently are and where you want to be. 

Now you may be thinking, “ugh, exercise is the worst thing I could do, I have no time for it and its too hard or even better, what if it makes my condition worse?!”.

Facts about how engaging in purposeful physical activity can be beneficial and it may shift your perspective on exercise: 

1. Cognitive Decline

  • Physical activity (PA) is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline and risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • With more than 33,000 participants in 15 studies, PA were associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of cognitive decline.

2. Anxiety and Depression 

  • PA reduces the risk of experiencing depressive symptoms and depression across the lifespan.
  • 30 minutes of PA per day reduces the odds of experiencing depression by 50% 

3. Sleep 

  • In 66 studies involving over 1200 adults, PA improved total sleep time, sleep efficiency and overall sleep quality. 

4. Cancer Prevention

  • PA activity reduces the risk recurrence in cancer patients and linked with reducing risk of bladder, breast, colon, renal and gastric cancers by 10-20%
  • Being sedentary increases the risk of endometrial, colon and lung cancers by 20-35%.

5. Cardio Metabolic Health 

  • There is strong evidence of a significant relationship between greater amounts of physical activity and decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart failure. 
  • Studies involving more than 650 000 participants found that physical activity is associated with a 10-30% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. 

6. Diabetes Mellitus 

  • PA can benefit individuals with type 1 diabetes as it improves insulin sensitivity, improved blood lipid profiles, decreased resting heart rate and blood pressure and decrease risk of coronary heart disease. 
  • PA reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D) and provides huge benefits for people who have type 2 diabetes.
  • Regular aerobic and resistance training can reverse many of the defects in metabolism of both fat and glucose in people with T2D and improve their haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). There is an average risk reduction of over 40% when comparing the most active with the least active participants. 

Now, with all that information hopefully you are better equipped to make a decision on which service you would need most. All 3 disciplines have their place in helping you achieve your goals and getting you back to your optimal self. 

Want To Know More?

We’d suggest contacting our team at Precision Physio, so that we can help you with your individual case.

How Do I Book An Appointment?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call any of these numbers to schedule a session:

Online Consultations

Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!

To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.

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