What actually is Exercise Physiology? How is it different to other forms of therapy?
Exercise Physiology is sometimes confused with Physiotherapy, and although both can prescribe exercise as a form of treatment, there are some key differences. It is important to know that both Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists are recognised allied health professionals and can work closely together to support a person living with disability to reach their goals.
Exercise Physiologists focus on overall health and well-being. By taking into consideration important lifestyle factors both inside and outside of your disability, our Exercise Physiologists can support clients to increase their physical activity levels and decrease sedentary behaviours (like spending all day watching TV). Exercise Physiologists are also able to guide and support their clients to creating sustainable behavioural change towards activity and support their clients to self-manage their conditions as much as possible. They receive significantly more training than personal trainers, and are qualified to treat chronic health conditions, which personal trainers are not.
This is different to physiotherapists, who typically focus on disability specific impairments, the diagnosis of injury, disability and pain, the prescription of assistive technology, and ‘hands-on’ therapy approaches.
In a sentence – a physiotherapist can get you up and moving, while an exercise physiologist can get you active!
Occupational Therapists support their clients to participate in their lives through providing hands-on therapies (which may or may not include physical activity) or through using assistive technology. It’s all about supporting participation in ways that are best for the client, and can at times appear similar to Exercise Physiology. They can also work together with your Exercise Physiologist to ensure the best outcome for you in achieving your goals.
All the different forms of therapy that we offer can work together to support you in achieving your goals – they are not mutually exclusive.
What are the benefits of Exercise Physiology?
There are so many benefits for clients who participate in Exercise Physiology. Some of these many benefits include:
- Improved mobility and range of motion,
- Pain and injury management,
- Improved physical and cardiovascular fitness,
- Improved strength and balance,
- Weight management,
- Mental health and well-being.
In addition to these benefits, research has indicated that Exercise Physiology can have profound positive effects for individuals living with a wide range of disabilities. For example, research shows that people living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who regularly participate in a physical exercise program, like one provided by an Exercise Physiologist, show significant positive changes in their executive function, social behaviours, communication skills, and overall quality of life.
Clients with other conditions like cerebral palsy can also significantly benefit from Exercise Physiology. By taking on an Exercise Physiology program, clients with cerebral palsy have been able to significantly enhance their strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
The benefits of Exercise Physiology don’t stop there! It has many proven benefits for clients who live with many different disabilities.
At Novita, our Exercise Physiologists can:
- Develop a picture of your overall health, paying close attention to their physical fitness traits and exercise behaviours,
- Develop and design individualised exercise programs taking into account your unique circumstances to increase physical fitness, strength, endurance, balance and flexibility,
- Design customised exercise programs to meet the unique health care needs for people living with disability,
- Support you to complete your individualised program in a convenient location, or to access community-based gyms or sporting facilities,
- Support you to develop their independence and well-being, and give you the tools needed to self-manage as much of your condition as possible.
If you find it difficult to engage in physical activity, exercise or sport because of low fitness and strength, have poor balance and coordination, or are low in motivation to make a change, a Novita Exercise Physiologist can support you. We work closely with you, your family members, and your support networks, to provide individualised exercise programs to support the development of your health and well-being.
We understand that each client is unique with different needs, and we’ll adjust our approach accordingly.
Our highly-qualified Exercise Physiologists are all university-trained, and accredited through Exercise and Sports Science Australia.
What might Exercise Physiology support at Novita look like?
Everyone is different – and everyone will respond to different physiology programs and practices. We can tailor our approach accordingly, and support our clients to live more active lives, no matter how young or old, or no matter what goals they are working towards. For example, our Exercise Physiologists who work with young clients have been able to create fun ways to exercise, by creating games and specialised activities for their client to play, either on their own, or with friends. They’ve been able to support our clients to develop their goals, such as riding a bike, kicking a football with friends, or going for a swim at the beach in summertime, and work towards them.
As an example of what our Exercise Physiologists can do when working with younger clients, they have been able to:
- Attend PE lessons at school to provide support if required, or to encourage a range of participation options,
- Create specialised programs and guided practice plans that include fun and motivating activities to develop skills in desired areas,
- Support with specific or targeted strength and conditioning programs,
- Modify exercises and supervise behaviour modification programs to assist with weight, injury, or condition management in a variety of settings, such as at school or in community sport.
Novita Exercise Physiologists have also been able to support our adult clients to build their independence, social skills, and confidence. They achieve this by:
- Group exercise programs to allow participants to socialise and meet new friends in a supportive environment while working towards their goals,
- Working one-on-one in a location of the client’s choice to develop overall fitness, strength, balance and mobility,
- Assisting with safe exercise habits, such as correct form, while completing exercise that acknowledges your circumstances, and providing support so that you can transition into your local gym, sport options, or other fitness programs,
- Providing access to new sporting and activity opportunities in the community that clients may have always wanted to try, but not known where to begin.
Our Exercise Physiologists are experts in the field, which includes making assessments prior to the beginning of a physiology program. When starting with our Exercise Physiologists, your first appointments are likely to include:
- An in-depth assessment of your current physical function and health
- one-on-one exercise sessions that will demonstrate the basics of your exercise plan and build your confidence to perform your routine independently
- group based sessions to increase your physical abilities and skills in a social setting.
- sporting based sessions, based on potential areas of interest you may have, such as basketball or soccer, to introduce you to participation in community based activity.
- delivery of sessions at Novita hubs and sites, in your home, school, community gym, or other sites convenient to you.
Once our Physiologist has completed their assessment, they will create a tailored plan to you that takes your unique situation into account. Your physiologist will be able to understand and make plans around your:
- current level of fitness, ability, and strength,
- motivation level, and readiness to change and create new habits,
- current restrictions that may cause difficulties for participation in community based activities or sport,
- current therapy goals, including goals in other lines of service.
It’s time to see an Exercise Physiologist when…
If you are ready to become more active and make significant lifestyle changes that may support you in being able to self-manage your condition, it’s time to talk to us. We can support you in learning the best way to include regular exercise and activity in your life, connecting with new and exciting community activity opportunities, and much more!