08 Nov 6 things you need to know before seeing an exercise physiologist
Have you been referred to an exercise physiologist? Great! But before you head along to your first appointment, you need to read this… Here’s six things you need to know before seeing an exercise physiologist:
1. You have to get on first base before you hit a home run
For us to achieve greater long-term goals, it’s beneficial to set smaller goals first or focus more on behaviour changes rather than the goal itself. Sometimes, you need to lower your expectations for the short term, rather than focusing on the larger long-term goal.
When I was a new exercise physiologist, I was very ambitious and wanted to hit a home run with every client. I wanted them to achieve their large long-term goal quickly and anything short of this was not good enough. As I have developed, I’ve learnt that we must take our wins, no matter how big or small.
We often see this in people with persistent (or chronic) pain… Their goal, their “home run” if you will, is to be pain free. But what if I could get this individual to manage their pain – to get to first base? What if I could prescribe an exercise program that helps keep the pain low and improves their movement and function? This is still progress!
As exercise physiologists, it’s our job to help educate, set benchmark milestones and guide you through the process.
2. Things don’t happen instantly
Achieving long-term, healthy, lifestyle changes is a process. You might not see changes straight away, but you have to trust that the healthy changes you’re making are working. One exercise session won’t help you manage diabetes long term, nor will it prevent a cardiac event or arthritis.
You need to focus on consistency and long-term change.
If all the benefits of exercise could be placed into a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed drug on the planet.
3. Your health is your responsibility
Seeing an exercise physiologist is a great first step, but the buck stops with you. It’s our job to help educate on the ecosystem of heath. It’s our job to help motivate. It’s our job to help put together a toolbox of exercises and programs that will help you achieve your goals and improve your health.
However, at the end of the day, we cannot do the exercise for you! It’s your responsibility to make your own health as a priority.
4. The best exercise is the one you’ll do
It’s a question we are often asked… “What is the best exercise for…?”
- Weight loss
- Parkinson’s Disease
There are certainly different programming protocols for different people and different conditions. We will always tailor an exercise program toward the individual.
But honestly, the ‘best exercise’ is always the same. The one that you’ll do.
We can create the most complex program in the world, with certain heart rate targets, reps, and sets etc. however, if you don’t do it, it’s irrelevant. Regular movement is key.
5. Recovery is rarely a straight line
Despite the progress shots you might see on social media and in magazines, if you were to graph your recovery, it’s rarely going to be in a straight line.
We are so often sold this perfect picture of weight loss or recovering from mental illness or managing arthritic pain. In reality, it rarely works like this.
If you’re losing weight – you might weigh more today than you did yesterday – and that’s ok.
As stated above, it’s a process and you’ll have ups and downs. What matters is that you’re heading in the right direction long-term.
6. The human body is strong
We will all go through periods of our life where our body feels like a Jenga Tower about to collapse. But the human body is far stronger and more resilient than you think.
There will always be people and practitioners out there that make money out of your fear. Maybe over-diagnosing, figuratively wrapping you in cotton wool and making you fear exercise unless you’re in their presence. There is certainly a time and a place for rest, but it’s not OK for a practitioner to instil fear just so you keep making a repeat appointment for the next decade.
As exercise physiologists, our goal is to education you and empower you to make positive changes so that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle long after our last appointment has ended.
Finding the right expert
Thinking of seeing an exercise physiologist? There’s over 5,000 Accredited Exercise Physiologists around Australia. To find one near you, click here.
Written by Thomas Hawthorne. Thomas is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Healthy Interactions.