The difference between an Exercise Physiologist and a Physiotherapist

8 Jul, 2021

Both exercise physiologists and physiotherapists are part of the “allied health professions,” meaning they provide valuable support services outside of the scope of dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, and nursing.

But while these terms may sound similar, they are very different. Exercise physiologists and physiotherapists have very different roles as allied health professionals – and have a very different scope of practice. 

Confused? Let’s explain the difference between the two in this blog from Gen Physio, and help you understand which type of professional may be suitable for your situation. 

What Is An Exercise Physiologist?

Exercise physiology is concerned with the biological effects of exercise on the body, its cells, and its organs. This field is concerned with how exercise and activity can prevent, manage, or even reverse chronic diseases. 

As the name suggests, exercise physiologists typically provide customised exercise plans and advice to treat people with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and other such conditions. 

Depending on the situation, exercise physiologists may also hold qualifications in nutrition or may work closely with nutritionists. The combination of diet and exercise programs can help dramatically improve health outcomes, improve a patient’s mental health, and enhance their overall well-being.

Exercise physiology

What Is A Physiotherapist? 

A physiotherapist, also known as a physical therapist, uses techniques and exercises that are meant to help restore movement in people who suffer from an injury, chronic disease, or ageing.

They assess, diagnose, and manage acute phases and chronic phases of many different physical injuries or conditions. The goal of a physiotherapist is to develop a treatment plan that will restore maximum movement and ability. For example, if a person gets hip replacement surgery, they may work with a physiotherapist to regain their strength, range of motion, and walking ability. This results in improved functional abilities and fitness. 

What’s Right For Me? 

As you can see, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists have very different roles but are both important for your overall health and wellbeing. So what’s right for you? 

In general, you should see an exercise physiologist if you’ve been prescribed exercise as part of a medical treatment plan to treat conditions like obesity or heart disease. Seeing an exercise physiologist helps you develop a tailored exercise program that will improve your overall health. Exercise physiologists as deal with a range of mental health conditions. 

However, exercise physiology and physiotherapy do have some overlap when treating patients. And in some cases, you may need to see both types of professionals. 

For example, if you have an acute injury to the soft tissue of your ankle and also suffer from chronic health conditions like diabetes and obesity, you may need to see a physiologist for your ankle, and an exercise physiologist to get advice and an exercise program to manage your diabetes and your weight. 

Not Sure What’s Right For You? Contact Gen Physio And Find Out! 

At Gen Physio, we offer both mobile physiotherapy and mobile exercise physiology services in Queensland, Victoria, and northern New South Wales. No matter your needs, we’re here to help – and we come to you to deliver the services you need in the comfort of your own home. Contact us today!

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