or what, why, who..
What is an Exercise Physiologist? What's the difference between you and a physio? What's the difference between you and a personal trainer? An OT? Probably the questions I hear the most, and understandably too, we are pretty new.
By definition: An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) is an Allied Health provider, who has completed a 4-year University degree. AEPs specialise in exercise therapy and lifestyle interventions for individuals with existing chronic or complex medical conditions. AEPs are referred to when working with individuals that have specific medical conditions and/or disabilities, or are at significant risk of developing medical conditions, where exercise and healthy behavioural changes are required as part of their management or prevention.
Then the why:
For young people without any obvious limitations, physical activity and exercise are beneficial for the overall health and wellbeing. But it's also beneficial for those, with a chronic health condition or disability.. assuming exercise hasn't been deemed a total no-no by a medical professional.
Depending on the particular condition, physical activity and exercise may need to be modified significantly when chronic health conditions affect physical or cognitive function:
Modifications often include adjustment of the prescribed exercise type, intensity and volume.
Some activities may need to be avoided because of the increased risk of injury associated with a specific condition.
Growing and developing bodies also need consideration due to growth plates, and the overall difference to adult bodies and the physiological response to exercise.
Some conditions may alter normal growth and development patterns. Therefore, the developmental age may not be on pace with the child’s chronological age.
Care needs to be taken to reassure parents, and young people, who may be hesitant or nervous about exercise they perceive as too hard or risky for an individual.
Exercise should be prescribed in a way that it not only improves health and wellbeing. When prescribed with a purpose, it can be functionally beneficial and lead to improvements in a number of other domains such as cognitive, emotional, and physiological benefits. AEP's know how.
And the who:
AEPs cover a broad range of ages and conditions at uni, and know the basics across this broad range. However, sometimes it is best to find one that specialises in a given area of interest. Not every AEP has the knowledge, patience and understanding needed to engage with younger individuals, let alone those with a disability, or additional needs. This is needed before you can even establish engagement in exercise and physical activity.
Achieving Abilities focus solely on children, adolescents and young adults with a disability so are aware of some of the challenges faced by these individuals, the physiological differences between adults and children, the stages of growth and development, as well as the impact specific conditions and disabilities can have on the body from an exercise, and non-exercise point of view. We also understand the influence of different medications that can also influence the body's function.
If you are, or know, a young person with a disability or health condition, and want some advice, get in touch today to find out how exercise physiology can help!