What is an Exercise Physiologist?

- Emily Turnbull, Exercise Physiologist

This past year we have all become more aware of looking after our health. For many, this includes a little help on the exercise front. If you chat with your GP about seeing an Exercise Physiologist, you might have a few questions, so hopefully this clears things up for you.

What is an Exercise Physiologist?

An Exercise physiologist, or EP for short, is an allied health professional that uses exercise as a form of treatment to assist people with chronic health concerns or complex conditions. We can work in a variety of areas from public health + hospitals to private clinics or gyms.

Is it like a personal trainer?

We do work with exercise, yes, but you wont catch us yelling at you to do an extra rep. The main difference is that a personal trainer will work with someone considered ‘healthy’, whereas we work with people who have something going on with their health, and might not be 100% safe to exercise.

For example- cancer patients, pregnant women, diabetics, elderly, cardiac rehab. Our knowledge of the body dives deep into how these conditions affect people, including the impact of medications and other treatments like chemotherapy might have on their body…particularly while exercising.

So is it more like physiotherapy?

Again, there are similarities, because physio’s will also use exercise as a treatment tool. The main difference is that an Exercise physiologist cannot diagnose a condition or injury and does not use hands on treatment. ..so if you don’t know exactly whats going on in your body, it might pay to speak to a physio or GP first. In our clinic, physios and EP work very complimentary, with our patients working dynamically between practitioners. Typically, physios here see more musculoskeletal injuries, and I see patients for long-term exercise management, people who need motivation, or people with a complex medical history involving more cardio-metabolic diseases / cancers etc.

Why would my GP send me to an Exercise Physiologist?

Many patients are still unsure what an EP is. We all know that exercise is good for us, and it can have a positive impact on the management of many conditions. The GP is either wanting you to increase your exercise to PREVENT disease, or to help MANAGE it. My role is to make sure you are doing enough exercise, and the right kind of exercise to suit you, your body, and anything else that is going on with your health.

What services do you offer?

Currently I accept GP referrals for

  • Medicare Care Plans
  • Medicare Type 2 Diabetes Plans
  • I accept referrals from specialists such as oncologists for the EXPO (prostate cancer) Exercise Program

I accept private referrals from physios, massage, PTs and other allied health, as well as those who are self referred. Private health funds usually cover EP, but you will need to check with them for your own coverage and rebate amounts.

My passion lies in women’s health and I love talking to people about their pelvic floor health, pregnancy and post natal care. I’m also quite passionate about cancer care and osteoporosis.

I run pregnancy and post natal group classes, pilates classes, seniors fitness classes – including balance and falls prevention and also offer general exercise sessions for people with diabetes or other health concerns.

I also travel to Benefitness to see clients, and like to exercise there myself.

Although these are my areas of interest, Exercise Physiologists are trained in management of the below conditions:

  • Musculoskeletal Injury (Lower Back Pain, Rehabilitation, OsteoArthritis, Osteoporosis, Pelvic Floor Dysfunction)
    • We recommend for injuries to first see one of our physio’s for diagnosis and acute management
  • Metabolic Conditions (Weight management, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome)
  • Auto Immune Conditions and Neurological Disorder (Rheumatoid Arthritis/ Other Arthritis, Stroke, MS, Parkinsons)
  • Oncology (During and after treatment)
  • Mental Health (Depression, Anxiety, PTSD)
  • Cardiac (Hypertension, High Cholesterol, Cardiac rehab post heart attack or surgery, Heart Failure)
  • Respiratory (Asthma, Emphysema/ COPD, rehab following respiratory infection)
  • Chronic Pain


If you feel like you could benefit from seeing an EP please contact the clinic on 08 7325 6600 for an appointment.

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