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Exercise is Medicine: Why you should contact your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist

Wrapping up part two of their series on exercise, Insight on SBS delved in to the world of chronic conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mental illness, and the significant role that exercise plays within their treatment and management.

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), the peak professional and accrediting body for exercise physiologists, reiterates the message that exercise certainly is medicine, and that Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) are well placed to manage the acute and chronic risks of exercise for people with chronic conditions.

“Accredited Exercise Physiologists are university-qualified allied health professionals who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to design, deliver and evaluate safe and effective exercise interventions for people with chronic medical conditions,” says Anita Hobson Powell, ESSA Chief Executive Officer.

Half of the population of Australia, that’s over 11 million people, has a chronic condition and these conditions are responsible for most deaths. Although research tells us that insufficient physical activity increases the risk of a range of diseases, still more than half of Australian adults are not sufficiently active.

“The Insight series was a great conversation starter for Australians on the importance of exercise for our health, but by following it up and speaking to your GP and being referred to your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist, you’re really giving yourself the best chance of managing, or reducing the risk of, chronic conditions.”

The episode saw members of the public discuss their diagnoses ranging from type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, stroke, mental illness, dementia, and cancer. However, they all praised the positive benefits exercise has had on their condition or injury, on their moods, and on their overall quality of life.

One member of the audience, Trevor, who lives with Lewy body dementia, undertook a strength training program with Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Michael Inskip, and claims not only does he feel ‘much better since doing the exercises’, his ‘cognitive function has improved’.

“People might think that it’s only cancer or diabetes that an exercise physiologist can work with, but really, they work with a range of chronic conditions including cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological, musculoskeletal, cancers, kidney, respiratory and mental health, and any other conditions for which there is evidence that exercise can improve the client’s clinical status,” adds Ms Hobson-Powell.

Providing services that are funded by Medicare Australia, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), WorkCover, and private health insurers, referrals from a GP to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can also be rebateable (bulk-billed) under certain treatment plans. This includes 5 sessions a year under the Medicare Chronic Disease Management (CDM) item.

“It’s vital that health professionals include exercise as a part of routine treatment plans, and GPs can play an important role here by recommending exercise for the treatment of chronic conditions and by referring the patient on to their local Accredited Exercise Physiologist.”

To contact your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist, visit the ESSA website here.

You can watch the two-part Insight series on SBS On Demand here.