An Exercise Physiologist has completed a 3 or 4 year university degree. Personal Trainers, a profession that is more familiar to the general public, can train from 6 weeks to 6 months for their qualification. Exercise Physiologists study the science of exercise. They thoroughly study the anatomy, physiology, biology and chemistry of the body, to understand the effect exercise has on the body. A depth of understanding of a broad range of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and depression is attained by an Exercise Physiologist. The effect of exercise on chronic diseases, the prevention of chronic diseases and general health is studied. The most current evidence-based scientific research on exercise is studied in the degree an Exercise Physiologist completes.
An Accredited Exercise Physiologist has gained Accreditation from Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA). To gain Accreditation, detailed proof must be given to prove university knowledge in many topics (as degrees for Exercise Physiologists are different in different universities). It must also be proven that the Exercise Physiologist has had a set amount of hours of clinical practice experience, in three areas. These three areas include:
- Neuromuscular/ neurological/ musculoskeletal and
- Apparently healthy clients
Most people can guess that exercise would benefit them in some way and most people feel they are either not doing enough exercise or no exercise at all. It doesn’t take a university degree for people to come to these conclusions. So, the scientific evidence proves the health benefits of exercise, the important questions that follow from this are:
- How do I get started to incorporate exercise in my life? and
- How do I maintain exercise over the long term, to achieve the goal of long term health?
Most people have a history of starting exercise for a period of time and then due to lifestyle changes occurring or for other reasons the exercise is stopped. An Exercise Physiologist teaches skills such as flexibility and problem solving to adapt to changes and demands in life that can impact the long term adherence to an exercise plan.
Many people steadily put on weight with the increasing years, marriage, mortgage, children, 9 to 5 jobs, whatever the individuals lifestyle, being time poor is listed as an important factor in why people either don’t exercise or stop exercising.
Someone with financial problems may consult with an accountant, with an understanding that the accountant is suitably qualified to assist them in that area. Similarly, if the problem is not having enough exercise in ones life, to improve health and prevent chronic diseases, a person may choose to consult with an Exercise Physiologist.
An Exercise Physiologist creates an individualized exercise plan. It is created with an understanding of the demands of the individual’s lifestyle. These lifestyle demands are a huge factor that is looked at when creating an Exercise Plan. A mother with two young children has a very different lifestyle to a retired person over 65. Personalities and preferences also differ widely. One person may go for a 6 am jog, another person may not be able think of a more unpleasant thing to do than that. Another example would be, some people prefer to exercise with others, some people like to exercise alone.
Not only does an Exercise Physiologist teach you specific exercises, they teach you skills at maintaining exercise regularly in your life. Many people buy fancy exercise equipment, that end up dusty in the garage. Another common experience is people paying for gym memberships, and their attendance drops off completely. In fact gyms take in a higher amount of members than their facility can hold, counting on the fact that a large amount of people paying for gym memberships will very shortly stop attending either regularly or all together. It is not just being taught the exercises or having equipment to exercise on, it’s learning the skills to logistically incorporate exercise into ones unique lifestyle and to keep exercising over the long term.
Some people enjoy going to the gym, other people don’t. This could be because people can find it intimidating or other reasons include things like perhaps the logistics of driving to and from a gym several days a week, is hard to maintain in a busy lifestyle. An Exercise Physiologist educates you, that for every exercise that can be done on a machine in the gym, there is an equivalent exercise that can be done for the same thing in the comfort of your home, with minimal equipment (eg hand weights). This is an example of one of the many personal choices people make in the creation of an individualized exercise plan. In this case the questions are:
- Do I enjoy going to the gym? Or
- Would I prefer to exercise at home? Or, perhaps
- Will I go to the gym on some days and on other days I don’t feel like going to the gym, do the exercises at home instead?
An Exercise Plan is a very personal and individual thing. The better the plan fits your own lifestyle demands, commitments, likes, dislikes, needs and preferences, the more likely it will be successful at being maintained long term. An Exercise Physiologist can also be seen in the future, after an exercise plan has been created. Because just like people’s lifestyles, an exercise plan changes and should change to best fit and adapt to the needs of your current lifestyle.
The degree an Exercise Physiologist does, doesn’t just teach evidence-based scientific research about the effects of exercise on the body. It also teaches evidence-based scientific research about skills, behavior techniques and lifestyle factors that impact on whether exercise is adhered to over the long term. Long term exercise, for long term health, is the goal an Exercise Physiologist works with you to attain.