What is an Exercise Physiologist?

Guest blog by Ryan McCathie, AEP of Hunter Rehab and Health ( www.hunterrehab.com.au )

Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) are allied health professionals with the highest level of training for prescribing exercise to individuals.

AEPs hold, at a minimum, a 4-year bachelor degree.

This equips AEPs with the knowledge, skills and competencies to design, deliver and evaluate safe and effective exercise interventions for people who have acute, sub-acute or chronic medical conditions, injuries and disabilities.

These interventions include health and physical activity education, advice and support, and lifestyle modification with a strong focus on achieving behavioural change.

As 1 in 2 Australians have a chronic health condition, AEP’s are becoming the first point of call rather than medication.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia is the peak professional body and sole accrediting authority for Accredited Exercise Physiologists.


Where do AEP’s work?

AEPs work in a number of environments, including but not limited to:

  • Public and private hospitals settings
  • Primary, secondary and tertiary health care
  • Within private and multidisciplinary clinics
  • Population health
  • Workplace health and rehabilitation
  • Ageing and aged care
  • Fitness centres, gymnasiums, business
  • Sporting settings

AEP vs. Personal Trainers

Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) are not Personal Trainers.

AEPs are allied-health professionals with Medicare Provider numbers and are trained members of the health and medical sector.

Fitness professionals (e.g. personal trainers) are members of the sport and recreation sector.

Personal Trainer

  • The Personal Fitness Trainer Qualification (Certificate 4) may be completed in less than 6 weeks of training.

  • Qualified and insured to design and deliver fitness programs to persons of low risk only (i.e. “apparently healthy populations”).

Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP)

  • Allied Health Provider

  • 4 Year University Degree qualified and accredited with ESSA.

  • Specialise in graded exercise therapy and lifestyle interventions for persons at risk of developing, or with existing chronic and complex medical conditions and injuries (i.e. ‘specific populations’).


Can I claim for Exercise Physiology?

There are several ways in which to claim.

Medicare Rebates, Health Fund rebates, Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) or WorkCover/CTP Medicare Chronic Disease Management Plan Medicare Australia have developed a ‘chronic disease management plan’ which is set out by your medical practitioner (including general practitioner, but not a specialist or consultant physician).

To be eligible for Medicare support you must be referred from a GP to one of our Exercise Physiologists and placed on a Chronic Disease Management Plan.

To be eligible for that Plan you must have a chronic disease or injury (an issue longer than 3 – 6 months).

Your GP will determine practitioner support for you which may include a maximum of 5 Medicare rebate services per each calendar year for services like Exercise Physiology.

Also, if you are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander decent, you may be eligible for a further 5 rebated services under the ATSI Health assessment.

Private Health Insurance

Exercise Physiology services are now recognised by almost all private health funds and substantial rebates are available.

We recommend you contact your health fund to ensure you are eligible for Exercise Physiology services dependant on your level of cover.

Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Entitled Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) clients (White or Gold card) may be referred to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist for clinically necessary Exercise Physiology treatment by their General Practitioner on a valid D904 referral form.

WorkCover and CTP

Exercise physiology treatment is highly effective and aimed at restoring the injured workers physical function and educating them about how to self-manage their injury and return to work.

The programs focus on the re-education of movement to provide long term sustainable change and ensure that a client can make a full return to the workforce, either in their selected duties or to provide assistance with retraining for an alternative occupation.

So there you go! We trust that this has been helpful and informative for you. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments about exercise physiology!