Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleCastle HillRandwickPymbleKingsgrove, Neutral Bay and Coburg, would like to discuss the difference between Exercise Physiology and Physiotherapy. Whilst often confused for each other, Exercise Physiology and Physiotherapy treatment are quite different. However, the two therapies complement each other, and it is often be beneficial to see both, particularly for clients recovering from an injury, or dealing with chronic pain.


The biggest difference between the two is that Exercise Physiology operates as a more long-term form of treatment, whereas Physiotherapy is more acute. Our job as Exercise Physiologists is to manage your chronic conditions, with longer lasting effect. Ultimately, we want to help restore and maximise your function, and improve your quality of life in the long term. In contrast, Physiotherapy treatment is for more acute management of injuries or flare ups. It aims to provide more short-term relief to help manage your symptoms in the moment and restore function temporarily. Both are beneficial in different ways, and Physiotherapy is important for some more immediate relief, but when you’re ready to get back to where you want to be long term, Exercise Physiology is definitely recommended.


‘… Exercise Physiologists aim to restore and maximise your function, and improve quality of life’.


Physiotherapy and Exercise Physiology also follow different treatment approaches. Physiotherapy is more focused around passive or ‘hands on’ treatment, while Exercise Physiology is more about an active, ‘hands off’ approach. So, what exactly does this mean? For Physiotherapy treatment, this means you need to physically be with the therapist for them to apply the treatment. Barring some basic exercises or strategies recommended by the Physiotherapist, there is often not as much you can do outside of the session. Exercise Physiology is a more active treatment modality, which means there is a huge emphasis on self-efficacy. Under the watchful eye of your Exercise Physiologist, with assistance as needed, you will be doing the exercises yourself. Exercise Physiologists will also often give you ‘homework’ exercises to supplement your sessions, provided you are able to complete them properly, and safely. This is all part of learning self-management strategies to manage your condition between appointments, so you don’t experience a huge decline when not in session.



Another difference between our two professions, is that Physiotherapists can provide a diagnosis, but as Exercise Physiologists, that is outside of our scope of practice. However, once we know the diagnosis, we know exactly what exercises and movements can be used to manage it and restore function. We make sure to work collaboratively with your Physiotherapist, so we know exactly what needs to be worked on, and we communicate back to the Physiotherapist how you’re coping with the treatment.


Furthermore, Physiotherapists tend to focus more on your condition or injury, whereas we as Exercise Physiologists are interested in the big picture. Your Physiotherapist will apply targeted treatment to the affected area, and prescribe targeted exercises. Your Exercise Physiologist will not only look at the affected area, but also how it interacts with other parts of your body, and how those interactions could be improved. Holistic health is an important part of your treatment, so we will also make sure other areas of your health are at a good level, so that they also don’t become an issue for you in the future.



Finally, as part of that holistic approach, prevention is a big part of Exercise Physiology practice, compared to the more isolated treatment focus of Physiotherapy. We believe prevention is one of the most important parts of the health journey, so we will assess your overall health, strength and fitness, and address weaker areas before they become ‘problem areas’. This is particularly important for injury rehabilitation, as a big component of the exercise therapy involves injury prevention strategies and education. Alternatively, we will include strategies to maintain other aspects of your health and fitness, so that they don’t decline in the future as you age. Physiotherapy on the other hand, is more to treat problems once they arise, manage your symptoms, and restore a basic level of function.


“…Your Exercise Physiologist will take a holistic approach to your treatment, focusing on not just management of current conditions but prevention of other health conditions that increase in likelihood as you age’.


If you are interested in learning more about what we as Exercise Physiologists do differently to your Physiotherapist, give Longevity Exercise Physiology a call, on 1300 964 002 today!