Search Google Appliance


Difference Between Physiotherapist, Personal Trainer, and Exercise Physiologist

August 4, 2016 by HealthyFamiliesBC

What do physiotherapists, personal trainers and exercise physiologists Do?

There are so many job titles in the health and fitness field. Even I find it challenging to determine what one professional does, their credentials and their scope of practice. In today’s post, I’m going to give you the run-down of what some health professionals can help you with.


Physiotherapists have an undergraduate degree and specialty training (usually a two year program) to become designated. They work with individuals who have acute and chronic muscle, bone, and joint concerns, as well as chronic health conditions. Their scope of practice includes diagnosing muscle, bone, and joint concerns and treating them (using ultrasound, rehabilitative exercises, intramuscular stimulation, and more). Learn more about physiotherapists.

Example of when you would you see a physiotherapist: if you had knee pain when running.

Personal Trainer

Personal trainers gain their certification different ways, ranging from weekend courses to more rigorous processes (there is no set standard). They usually work with healthy individuals, designing and supervising exercise programs in fitness centers or in clients’ homes.

Example of when you would see a personal trainer: if you wanted to begin a weight lifting routine at your local gym.

Exercise Physiologist

Exercise physiologists have an undergraduate degree in kinesiology or sports science and are accredited by a national organization. They work with healthy individuals as well as those with chronic health conditions and acute and chronic injuries. Exercise physiologists look at how exercise affects the various body systems in the absence or presence of stressors (for example, how exercise helps with diabetes, or how heat affects exercise).

Example of when you would see an exercise physiologist: if you had heart disease and want to become more active.

There is a lot of overlap in the three professions, and often times there is team work and referrals among practitioners. Call the Physical Activity Line (8-1-1) if you’d like more information on any of these or other health professionals. Or ask questions in the comments below!

Related blogs

Dietitian: What’s in a Name?
Fitness Lingo Explained

Recommended resources

Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia: About Physiotherapy
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology: What is an Exercise Physiologist



HealthyFamilies BC Tools

Breastfeeding Buddy

Breastfeeding Buddy


Sodium Sense

Sodium Sense


Your Virtual Shopping Tour

Shopping Sense


How Much Sugar Are You Drinking?

Sugary Drink Sense