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What is the difference between an Exercise Physiologist and a Physiotherapist?

When it comes to promoting physical health and wellness, there are many professionals who can help. Two of the most common are Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists. While both professions focus on improving health and function through exercise and physical activity, there are some key differences between the two. In this blog, we'll explore the key differences between an Exercise Physiologist and a Physiotherapist.

Education and Training

Both Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists are University trained, studying for a minimum of 4 years to hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree respectively. Throughout their studies there are many similar areas of study including anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics. Both Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists use the latest evidence-based treatment protocols, so you can be assured you’re in safe hands.

How do they differ?

While both Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists use exercise and physical activity to promote health and wellness, their approaches may differ. Exercise Physiologists typically focus on developing long-term exercise programs that are designed to help clients manage chronic conditions and improve overall health and function. They may use a variety of tools and techniques, such as aerobic exercise, resistance training, flexibility, and mobility exercises, to help clients achieve their goals. Physiotherapists, on the other hand, often focus on short-term goals related to rehabilitation and injury management. They may use techniques such as manual therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to help clients recover from injury or surgery.


To help illustrate the differences between the two professions, let's consider a few examples. If an individual has a chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes, neurological conditions, or a chronic injury, an Exercise Physiologist may be better suited to help them manage their condition through exercise. The Exercise Physiologist can develop a safe and effective exercise program that considers the individual's medical history, current health status, and fitness level, and gradually progresses them towards their goals. On the other hand, if an individual has suffered a knee injury and needs help with rehabilitation, a Physiotherapist may be more appropriate. The Physiotherapist can help the individual regain strength, mobility, and function in the knee, using techniques such as manual therapy and specific exercises.

Generally, Physiotherapists are seen early in the injury phase (acute phase). Exercise Physiologists generally take over from there as they aim to progress the individual safely and effectively through further loading, with the goal of return to previous activities, sport or work. For chronic conditions and injuries, the Exercise Physiologist will find ways to continually achieve your health-related goals and to help you be the best you can be!


Whilst both Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists focus on improving physical health and function through exercise and physical activity, they do have different treatment approaches. We hope this blog has helped you gain an understanding of which allied health professional might be the right one for you.

Here at Embrace, we want to help you become the best you can be!

If you have any further questions please reach out to our friendly team on 1300 212 555


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