As a loud and proud AEP I often get asked the question ... what is an AEP? And no, AEPs are not just the same as physiotherapist's or personal trainers.
So with some help from Exercise & Sports Science Australia, I have tried to provide a brief 'explainer' for What is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP)?, at least in an Australian and paediatric/youth context.
An AEP is an "allied health professional providing exercise and lifestyle therapies for the prevention and management of chronic disease, injury and disability” (www.essa.org.au). AEPs have completed a minimum 4 year university degree and are required to meet strict ongoing accreditation standards and are recognised by Medicare Australia and most private health insurers.
AEPs are experts in exercise delivery in order to prevent, manage and treat complex developmental or medical conditions. In this respect, AEPs work with families to assess current activity level and physical capacities but also provide a targeted and progressive exercise program alongside behavioural support to empower families to manage their health independently.
Being physically active is a key contributor to the development of a healthy body and brain during childhood and adolescence, with some kids and teens face challenges to participation. This may include neurodevelopmental disorders (i.e. Autism, ADHD, DCD/Dyspraxia), medical conditions (i.e. Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, Obesity, Cancer) or psycho-behavioural challenges (i.e. Anxiety, Depression).
Importantly, exercise can have a positive impact across many of these conditions, as well as helping with physical, mental and social development. However, it is important that the impact of exercise and an exercise regime is tailored specifically for the needs and capabilities of the child/teen. And this is where an AEP comes in!
An exercise plan should ensure the exercise is purposeful and in-line with best practice guidelines, but also fun, enjoyable, appropriately challenging, and in the case of kids incorporate the whole family. An AEP with expertise around paediatric exercise can work with individuals +/- their families to tailor a program specific to each and every person, often alongside other allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, paediatricians and/or sports coaches and teachers.
"HUMANS ARE COMPLEX AND EXERCISE IS A SCIENCE”