What is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist?

An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) is an Allied Health provider, who has completed a 4-year University degree. AEP’s specialise in exercise therapy and lifestyle interventions for individuals with existing chronic or complex medical conditions. 

AEP's 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.

Each person has individual traits and complexities requiring exercise that is not only fun, but is specific to their needs. The exercise therapy needs to suitably address the precautions and benefits associated with the condition or presentation of the individual, as well as individual barriers and facilitators to exercise participation and physical activity.  An AEP understands the physiological side of chronic conditions and disability, and the physiological impact exercise can have, and know how to tailor it to fit within the precautions of a condition. It is important to remember too that children and teenagers will have a different physiological response to exercise than adults, so for young people with a chronic health condition, seeing an AEP for safe exercise recommendations is important. 

AEP’s can assess the current physical capacity of the individual, as well as their needs and capabilities, and use this information to develop an exercise regime to meet the individual needs and goals of the individual and their family. An AEP can liaise with doctors and other health professionals to ensure the best outcomes are achieved.

Why Exercise Physiology?

Want to find out more about other conditions or difficulties that can benefit from Exercise Physiology intervention?

It is a science to be able to tailor exercise prescription to meet the needs, ability, and sometimes-complex presentation of an individual in order to maximise the holistic benefits that exercise can provide. Exercise goes beyond just fitness!

Sometimes Exercise Physiology intervention may be to assist in keeping up with peers at school to enhance participation, or to develop sport-specific skills and fitness to support social and community involvement. Or, it might be to help manage a specific concern related to a disability or health condition.

The role of exercise isn't necessarily to affect the underlying process that is occurring with a given condition or disability. In fact, rarely does exercise have the capacity to alter what is happening physiologically to the body. However, the effects are still crucial to overall health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Using Muscular Dystrophy as an example, the abnormal changes in the muscle fibers affected by Muscular Dystrophy will continue, but the physical conditioning resulting from tailored exercise may improve the function of the healthy muscle fibers, as well as benefits such as endurance, improved confidence and help to prevent or minimise contractures.

Another example of a condition whereby exercise can have an indirect effect is Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM). In this condition, the endocrine and metabolic deficiencies associated with T1DM will not change with physical activity, but daily diabetic control may be improved with regular exercise.

 

 Asthma is another example where exercise can strategically be used as a therapy to improve lung function, and reduce airway sensitivity. 

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Exercise is crucial for both mental and physical health and development, but Exercise Physiology provides targeted and purposeful exercise programs, which can also:

  • improve endurance, ambulation and a number of other skills important for daily tasks and participation

  • have condition-specific benefits for a number of disabilities and chronic health conditions

  • Cognitive benefits – such improving executive functioning

  • develop fine and gross motor skills

  • increase aerobic fitness

  • increase muscle strength

  • increase joint range of motion

  • help prevent or minimise contractures

  • improve balance

  • improve posture, core strength and muscle tone

  • improve coordination, speed and power

  • sport specific skills, and sport-specific rules to enhance participation

*as examples

Want to find out more about other conditions or difficulties that can benefit from Exercise Physiology intervention?