Do I need an Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist?

At Body Smart Health we pride ourselves on offering a number of allied health services including exercise physiology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and dietetics. But when it comes to choosing between exercise physiology and physiotherapy many of us get confused. Whilst both allied health professionals offer similar services there are some differences between the two that are helpful to know when deciding who to see.

Most importantly, whether it is an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist you come to see at Body Smart Health, we guarantee you will first receive an in depth assessment of your current capacity and concerns. Both professions first ask a series of questions to better understand your needs and capabilities, this is then followed by a tailored functional assessment to understand how you move, where your strength and limitations lie and if anything in particular causes pain. From this point onwards both professions utilise this assessment process to build you a tailored intervention.

Both treat a broad variety of musculoskeletal conditions, but their expertise does differ in particular areas:


Physiotherapists provide assessment and diagnosis of injuries and use both hands-on therapy and exercise interventions to help you manage your injury, pain or disability. Physiotherapists are your first line of treatment if you have recently been injured, are suffering from pain or limited movement. They also are well equipped in assessing and managing complex neurological conditions, being able to complete neurological impairment testing. Additionally, they have the skills and knowledge to work with our paediatrics population to conduct paediatric milestone testing and ensure our kids are meeting these important development markers.

Exercise Physiologists:

Whilst Exercise Physiologists perform in depth assessments they do not diagnose, rather they utilise a prior diagnosis you have received from your GP or physiotherapist alongside their assessment to ensure their prescription is suitable for you. They are our exercise experts and have a profound understanding of how exercise affects our bodies and which forms are best suited to you and your needs. Additionally, exercise physiologists specialise in working with patients who have suffered cardiac complications, are suffering with mental health issues or have metabolic or chronic conditions such as diabetes or fibromyalgia.

Author: David Gahan, Senior Exercise Physiologist, BExSc, GDipExSc, AES, AEP, ESSAM
Clinic: Ipswich
If you would like to make an initial appointment with David or any of our other available Exercise Physiologists, you can contact us on 1300 630 204.