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  • Highlighted Sessions in Clinical Exercise Physiology to be Presented at the 2021 ACSM Annual Meeting

    by Caitlin Kinser | Mar 25, 2021

    2021 annual meeting clinical exercise physiologyAs the topical representative for Clinical Exercise Physiology, it is my pleasure to highlight some of the exciting program sessions at the 2021 Annual Meeting that will be held virtually.

    Our highlighted symposium this year is titled “Exercise and Medications in the Treatment of CVD Risk Factors” to be held on Wednesday, June 2nd at 4:15 p.m. (All times listed in Mountain Daylight Time). This session will discuss the clinical relevance of combining medications with exercise on the prevention and treatment of CVD risk factors and highlight potential interactions of exercise and common medications used to treat type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia and hypertension. Moreover, these talks will describe suggested synergistic, additive or antagonistic effects and identify gaps in knowledge for future direction in effort to optimize CVD risk reduction. This session includes a great lineup of speakers and is being organized and moderated by Steve Malin Ph.D., FACSM, Rutgers University, and will include talks by Linda Pescatello, Ph.D., FACSM, University of Connecticut (Exercise and antihypertensive medications), Adam Konopka, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (Exercise and metformin), and John Thyfault, Ph.D., FACSM, University of Kansas Medical Center (Exercise and statins). We look forward to an informative session on this important and relevant topic.

    As a follow-up to the 2019 highlighted symposium on the importance of cardiorespiratory fitness for predicting health outcomes, Robert Ross, Ph.D., FACSM, Queens College, and Jon Myers, Ph.D., VA Palo Alto Health Care System, will provide a lecture on “Strategy for Implementing Cardiorespiratory Fitness as a Routine Measure in Clinical Settings” which is scheduled for Thursday, June 3rd at 1:15 p.m. 

    In addition to these sessions there will be a tutorial lecture on “Advancing the Field of Clinical Exercise Physiology: The Clinical Revolution” (June 1st, 4:30 p.m.), a Colloquium on “Cardiac Preconditioning and Exercise-Induced (Mal)Adaptations to Exercise: Clinical Implications” (June 1st, 3:30 p.m.), and a timely Symposium on “The Implications of COVID-19 on Cardiac Rehabilitation: The Need to Accelerate Provision of Non-Traditional Approaches” (June 4th, 2:15 p.m.). Rounding out the Clinical Exercise Physiology section is a Colloquium on “Stress Testing in the COVID Era” (June 5th, 9:00 a.m.) and several poster sessions spread throughout the week.

    We look forward to a wonderful virtual 2021 ACSM Annual Meeting! It is my hope that you will find these sessions informative and thought provoking, and that they will foster opportunities for those interested in Clinical Exercise Physiology to connect and network.

    Join us at ACSM's 2021 virtual Annual Meeting!

    Harber_MatthewMatthew Harber, Ph.D., FACSM
    , is a Professor of Clinical Exercise Physiology and Director, Clinical Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. His research aims to assist health professionals to develop exercise plans for life-long fitness. 
  • ACSM Guidelines Evolved - Featured Article

    by David Barr | Mar 24, 2021

    ACSMs Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription 11th edition

    Evolution of the ACSM Guidelines | 
    Historical Perspectives, New Insights, and Practical Implications

    This featured article from ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal® summarizes key recent findings relative to exercise testing, exercise training, and exercise prescription in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.
    ACSM Fitness Journal March April 2021

    Read the featured article courtesy of ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal®

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    Physical Activity Guidelines | Professional Resources

  • Why We Must Prioritize Equitable Access to Physical Activity for Children with Disabilities

    by Caitlin Kinser | Mar 22, 2021

    active boy in wheelchair with bat and ballProviding children with disabilities equal access to quality education is a central tenet of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This four-part American legislation governs how states, schools and public agencies provide special education and related services to more than 6.5 million children across the country. Within this legislation, students are entitled to free and appropriate public education, including specially designed instruction, supplementary aids and related services based on their Individualized Education Program goals. IDEA is intended to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability at no cost to parents. Despite these important legislative wins, children with disabilities are often overlooked and systematically excluded from physical activity opportunities provided at schools.

    Current evidence suggests that children with disabilities are 4.5 times less likely to engage in physical activity compared to children without disabilities. Contributing factors to this disparity include:

    • The general population has a lack of understanding of children’s ability level and fear of potential injury. For example, the play behaviors of children with disabilities differ from their peers, as they engage in more solitary play than those without disabilities.
    • Many playgrounds are not adapted (i.e. equipped with wayfinding systems, unitary surfacing, flush transitions, sensory elements, etc.) to meet the needs of children with disabilities. This potentially limits them from engaging in spontaneous physical activity during recess.
    • A scarcity of adapted physical education programs and curricula for students with disabilities is commonly documented. An increased emphasis on competition rather than inclusion during physical education class significantly hinders physical activity participation among this group.
    • Adequate training to plan and implement inclusive physical activity and recreation programs for children with disabilities is lacking.

    We must identify and acknowledge these barriers to equitable access to school-based physical activity opportunities, and develop targeted strategies to promote health and wellness in students who are underserved. More importantly, in the current COVID-19 environment there is an urgent need to provide resources and strategies to families of children with disabilities. While schools across the nation have transitioned to virtual learning, these resources can prevent further declines in physical activity participation.

    Call-to-action: Universal and tailored approaches to promote equitable physical activity opportunities in schools

    The school setting is a pragmatic solution to providing quality physical education and increasing access to physical activity opportunities for children with disabilities. During the academic year (nine to 10 months), children spend most of their waking hours at school. School-based programming provides structured physical activity opportunities for children with disabilities to learn and develop motor skills through quality physical education, and offer a spontaneous chance to practice motor skills during recess, free from the constraints of adult direction. School administrators can reduce barriers to physical activity in this setting by utilizing a universal design approach. Simply, universal design focuses on accommodating the greatest number of individuals, in the widest possible range of situations, without the need for alterations. When applied to physical education, universal design supports the various ways that students receive, process and express information by proactively creating learning experiences that meet the needs of all students. Universal design strategies include three main components: (1) presenting information in multiple ways; (2) engaging students in a variety of instruction activities; and (3) using multiple means of assessment. These variations are embedded into lesson plans at the start and are not added in afterwards. Universal design is an evidence-based approach to providing inclusive physical activity in schools.

    While universal design strategies close the gap in access and usability, there is still a need to adapt physical activity programming to meet the specific needs of some students. Physical education, which is a federally mandated service within special education, enables students with disabilities to develop a variety of physical, cognitive and social skills. However, within physical education the delivery of the curriculum and the type and training of professional delivering the content are inconsistent. Thus, students are challenged with developing such skills in an unpredictable manner. Adapted physical education consultation and service delivery allows skill acquisition delivered by a qualified professional. Adapted physical education involves a process in which one professional helps other experts, parents and community members to work more successfully with students with disabilities within the school setting. Increasing access to adapted physical education services can have a substantial impact on youth physical education. 

    Call-to-action: Utilizing specialized services to support lifelong physical activity

    Employing an ACSM/NCHPAD Certified Inclusive Fitness professional should also be considered to ensure developmentally appropriate physical activity programs and positive professional attitudes when interacting with children with disabilities outside of the school setting.

    Professionals that may contribute to the physical activity needs of students with disabilities within the school setting include physical, occupational and recreational therapy. Physical therapy addresses issues of functional mobility use within the school environment and access to learning within a classroom or gymnasium/playground/field. The physical therapist also works on range of motion as it relates to a student’s ability to receive instruction, participate in activities and learn. Occupational therapy helps individuals restore and develop skills necessary for maximal independence and more specifically helps students with disabilities develop skills such as concentration, movement and problem-solving. Finally, recreational therapy specializes in the area of recreation and leisure activities, including art, aquatics, music, dance, drama, horticulture and outdoor recreation. Recreation therapists provide information about adaptations for recreation programs, information regarding leisure assessment and insights into available recreation/leisure programs in the community. Utilization of these specialized services can support students learning and motor skill development as well as enhance enjoyment of leisure activities, all of which may contribute to lifelong physical activity in students with disabilities. For school districts and communities where services are limited and/or unattainable, some things to consider are: collaboration and resource sharing with neighboring school districts; advocacy from both families and service professionals for these services to be included in children’s Individualized Education Program (IEP); and seeking out and receiving assistance from local and county human services to financially support and/or offset the cost of these services. 

    Call to Action: Parent support and advocacy for inclusive physical activity opportunities

    Parent support plays a vital role for promoting physical activity for children with disabilities both in and out of school. Factors such as encouragement, presenting opportunities for their children to engage in physical activity, enrolling their child in sport clubs at an early age and parental modeling all contribute to higher physical activity levels in this group. These experiences help children feel comfortable and open to participating in future physical activity opportunities both at school and in their community. Parents can also identify additional inclusive physical activity programs and resources provided by local universities, colleges and medical facilities. These programs have been instrumental in bridging the gap between rehabilitation and community-based health promotion. The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) is a public health practice and resource center on health promotion for people with disability. NCHPAD’s website includes links to statewide resources for adapted physical activity opportunities. Programs highlighted in this directory can serve as models for inclusive physical activity in communities where opportunities are limited. More widely known programs for physical activity and sports for persons with intellectual disabilities (such as Down syndrome) include the Special Olympics and, for varied categories of disability, the Paralympics. Programs mentioned above also include online videos to promote physical activity in the home environment for individuals with disabilities. Examples include Special Olympics Fit 5,      NCHPAD’s Autism Exercise video series, and NCHPAD’s Home Workouts video series. Community programs that provide virtual opportunities for this population to engage in physical activity cannot be overemphasized, particularly in the current COVID-19 environment.

    Finally, in Healthy People 2030 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services emphasizes the need for daily participation of all students in physical activity. However, most elementary, middle and high schools allow “exemptions” to required student physical activity. Common reasons cited for “exemptions” are cognitive and physical disabilities. To promote inclusion and physical health, clinicians, families and educators need to advocate for all children, including those with disabilities, to participate in sports and recreational activities, to have access to adaptive equipment, proper training and clothing, adequate hydration and access to inclusive playgrounds, parks and recreational facilities.

    The value of physical activity cannot be understated for children with disabilities as evidenced by the inclusion, for the first time, of physical activity recommendations for this group in The World Health Organization 2020 Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior. By  restructuring physical opportunities at schools, working collaboratively with community supports and empowering parents to advocate for their children, we can realize the full potential of IDEA, and our children, irrespective of ability status.  

    For additional information:

    Lakowski, T. & Long, T. (2011). Proceedings: Physical Activity and Sport for People with Disabilities. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development

    Murphy N.A., Carbone P.S. (2008). American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Children With Disabilities. Promoting the participation of children with disabilities in sports, recreation, and physical activities. Pediatrics. May;121(5):1057-61.

    King, G., Law, M., King, S., Rosenbaum, P., Kertoy, M.K., Young, N.L. (2003). A conceptual model of the factors affecting the recreation and leisure participation of children with disabilities. Phys Occup Ther Pediatr. 23(1):63-90.

    Frost, J.L., Wortham, S.C., & Reifel, S. (2012). Play and child development. (4th ed.).Pearson.

    Rimmer, J. H., & Rowland, J. L. (2008). Physical activity for youth with disabilities: a critical need in an underserved population. Dev Neurorehabil, 11(2), 141-148.

    Inclusive Play Design Guide Workgroup (2015). Inclusive Play Design Guide

    Authors: Marquell Johnson, Ph.D.; Vincenzo Nocera, Ph.D.; Navin Kaushal, Ph.D.; Lauren Simon, M.D., FACSM; Rebecca Hasson, Ph.D., FACSM, and the ACSM Strategic Health Initiative on Health Equity

  • Fitness Summit | Essential Courses and Classes

    by David Barr | Mar 19, 2021

    Fitness Summit Events ACSM

    'Can't miss' pre and post-conference sessions at ACSM's International Health & Fitness Summit

    Preconference courses are presented by FMS and RAD.

    Learn More and Register Individually

    Post-conference classes are presented by STRONG Nation, Balanced Body and Keiser.

    Learn More and Register Individually

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    ACSM Personal Trainer Certification Prep Course
    ACSM's Personal Trainer Certification Prep Course

  • Stretching and Flexibility Guidelines Update

    by David Barr | Mar 18, 2021

    ACSM Fitness Summit 2020

    What are ACSM's guidelines for stretching and flexibility?

    The latest ACSM stretching and flexibility guidelines include:


    Equal to or greater than 2-3 times per week.
    Daily stretching is most effective.


    Stretch to the point of feeling tightness or slight discomfort.


    Holding a static stretch for 10-30s is recommended for most adults.
    In older individuals, holding a stretch for 30-60s may confer greater benefit toward flexibility.


    A series of flexibility exercises for each of the major muscle-tendon units is recommended.

    These stretching and flexibility guidelines are now presented in Table 5.6 of ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 11th Edition.

    Download ACSM Guidelines from its Book Page

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    Physical Activity Guidelines | Professional Resources