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adaptive-fitness-wheelchair-fitness

The Importance of Exercise for the Disabled or Handicapped

Everyone must remain active. This is only achievable with the help of exercise. Contrary to popular belief, handicapped people also wish to stay fit and healthy. On the other hand, some of handicapped individuals do not realize the importance of it.

Let’s discuss the importance of exercise for handicapped people.

Prevention of Heart Disease

Exercise can help reduce the risk of developing diseases relating to the heart. This includes high blood pressure, heart attack and ischemic heart disease. Furthermore, exercise is essential for preventing various other medical conditions.

Prevention of Comorbidities

Inactivity is a disease in itself. Being inactive makes the body less productive. This makes them more prone to the development of illness, ranging from something as small as flu to as big as cancer. Disabled and inactive individuals have a higher chance of developing colon cancer and diabetes.

Prevention of Anxiety and Depression

Being inactive and indoors can lead to depression and anxiety. You may feel down most of the time. Exercising releases endorphins in our body. These help in regulating mood; those who exercise regularly experience improvement in their moods.

Alleviates pain

Inactivity can cause harm to your bones and muscles as well. The majority of people suffer from pain in joints and other complications. Stiff muscles are also an additional drawback of inactivity.

Handicapped people who exercise more often do not suffer from these symptoms. They report relief of pain. Furthermore, such people also have faster healing of wounds and injury from trauma.

Clears the mind

Exercising not only helps with our physical well-being. It also aids in improving our mental health as well. Brain fog is a real thing; people can be doubtful about the decisions they make. Exercising helps people to think clearly. They can divert their mind from useless jargon to more productive thoughts.

DO NOT LET OTHERS STOP YOU FROM EXERCISING

Being handicapped has a certain societal stigma with it. The perception of people can often stop you from exercising. Always remember that exercising will only benefit you alone. Don’t worry about what others think!

Conclusion

Being disabled can be a hard thing. But, exercise is an activity that will help you to gain self-esteem. You do not need to start with rigorous workouts.

This journey begins with a single step, time will help you get better in the long run. So what are you waiting for?  Start looking for an exercise regimen that suits you best.

Here’s to your health!


Terrance Hutchinson is the Owner of Your Best Lifestyles Fitness and Nutrition. He is a Certified Personal trainer specializing in Exercise Therapy, Corrective Exercise, Sports Nutrition, and Corporate Wellness. He an author of 3 books, he has his own podcast, he has contributed articles to major newspapers and magazines, Terrance has spoken at health events, webinars, seminars, hospitals, schools, doctors offices and has been featured nationally syndicated television platforms. Terrance has clients in many states and counties and is looking to help others bridge the gap between the medical and fitness industries. To learn more about Terrance, visit yourbestlifestyles.com

Senior-and-Trainer

What Does the Future Hold?: Emerging opportunities for trainers and coaches in medically oriented wellness

Four years ago, almost to the day, I made a keynote presentation at the California Clubs of Distinction annual meeting in Palm Springs. It was not long after the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was approved and launched. I decided to make this presentation because the landscape for medical health was at an all-time high, and the certification organizations knew this as they were all scrambling for their market share of this emerging opportunity.

I was making presentations in healthy aging and how to train elderly people in 2014, joined with and became a master trainer for an emerging group at the time, and got certified in functional aging. I had met with this energetic woman in Orange County who was starting a network for medical fitness — any guesses? Yes, Lisa Dougherty was super passionate about it and was busy enlisting all kinds of groups to collaborate with her. After working for the American Council on Exercise and knowing their interest in this market sector, I too saw an interesting niche in the fitness and health market that was not getting filled. The gap between an allied health care professional’s treatment and true functional health for any individual, but especially an aging one. Phil Kaplan has written and spoken quite a bit on this and labeled it as the “new blue ocean.” As he mentions, it is not a small niche, but a huge market opportunity, and it is driven by people valuing their health and quality of life.

Market Changes: What does the future hold?

Fast forward four years in what will go down in history as the COVID-19 year for the U.S. “We are all in this together” but six feet apart and in our own homes! There is a lot talk out there about what the future holds. Our country has not seen this level of unemployment and losses of income since the Great Depression. Our government is bailing out people and companies to the tune of trillions of dollars. Large companies such as 24-Hour Fitness is considering bankruptcy and has closed all 448 of their gyms. The social isolation has changed the landscape toward medical fitness even further! The other trend it is causing is online services to be popular. The stay-at-home quarantines we all are supposed to obey has meant a huge upsurge for education and training done online or virtually, respectively.

In an interview with Chris Rondeau, the CEO for Planet Fitness, he was mentioning how their facilities were always practicing good cleaning practices but felt the “personal cleaning etiquette” will now likely change amongst members. Thank goodness! No one wants to be on a piece of equipment where another’s sweat was left. This factor and the personal space will likely be in the forefront as the fitness clubs are part of the Phase 1 of the U.S. government’s reintegration policy. He also mentioned how the public understands that fitness is good for the immune system, and the lower price point of the Planet Fitness facilities are something the public will need to consider with the losses of income. He also mentioned how the company’s app and virtually lead fitness is exploding. He called it the digital content consumption and said it is at an all-time high for the company.

So what factors were part of my “perfect storm” as I labeled it? The Affordable Care Act, the baby boomers becoming seniors, people living longer, medical costs going out of control, ROI on preventative services being realized and new opportunities for corporate wellness as well. Now we have a new perspective on staying healthy during pandemics, keeping ourselves and our families away from large crowds, and watching our budget. There has been a shift in society for quite some time now from a “volume incentive” or paying a fee for a service, to a “value incentive” or paying for outcomes.

So several questions the public is asking;

  1. Are the big box gyms doomed? No but they may need to serve the two ends of the spectrum, with clubs like Equinox serving the high-end client and clubs like Planet Fitness serving low-end clients.
  2. Are group classes going to go away? Not likely, but the need to have six feet of spacing and therefore smaller classes are likely to change the way group classes are run, and that is “when” they come back.
  3. Will online or virtual training increase? No doubt they will. This trend was already going strong with Peleton (stationary bikes) and other fitness devices having the virtual coach.
  4. Will wellness and health coaching services increase? Also, no doubt. People, like me, have been not been in a standard gym for almost two months and are realizing the importance of their mental and physical health over just looking fit and trim.

What is next?

It is believed that the fitness marketplace will change over the next decade, and that the pandemic has sped this change along. 24-Hour Fitness was going through financial problems prior to the COVID-19 shutdowns. The evolution of “gyms” becoming “health care” facilities is happening. You should position yourself to either deliver a variety of wellness services or have a network of people you work with who can deliver these services. I believe the future health center will be a place offering several services and most will be proactive in nature.

You will need to join organizations that expose you to people who desire these services, like the MedFit Network. Be sure to take advantage of this “downtime” to “gear up” with education and new business plans that include specialties in disease conditions like osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity. Others like women’s health or cancer or multiple sclerosis are available through MedFit Classroom as well.

This article was featured in the summer 2020 issue of MedFit Professional Magazine. Click to read the latest issue and get your free subscription.


Dr. Mark P. Kelly has been involved with the health and fitness field for more than 30 years. He has been a research scientist for universities and many infomercial projects. He has spoken nationally and internationally on a wide variety of topics and currently speaks on the use of exercise for clinical purposes and exercise’s impact on the brain. Mark is a teacher in colleges and universities in Orange County, CA., where Principle-Centered Health- Corporate Wellness & Safety operates.

Seniors with trainer in gym at sport lifting barbell

Set Yourself Apart: Facing the increasing challenge of competing with underqualified trainers

As a personal trainer, you may find it increasingly difficult to compete in an industry that has no licensure and very little in the way of requirements. As an industry, we let anyone willing to take a two-, four-, six- or eight-hour online course become a personal trainer. This may explain the lack of expertise that is witnessed in so many trainers at gyms across the country. You may find yourself watching them from the sidelines, cringing as you notice the client performing deadlifts with an arched-back; squats with their knees caving in; or any other combination or poor supervision, direction and form.

It’s unfortunate, but the average person has no idea what to look for in a trainer. They don’t know the questions to ask, the accredited certifications and whether or not that trainer is able to work with any pre-existing conditions that they may have. As gyms hire underqualified trainers, underselling those of you who are worth your fee, clients continue to get injured. The client goes to a physical or occupational therapist and tells them they’ve been working with a trainer at X gym. The therapist rolls their eyes, having heard the story time and time again, discrediting personal trainers and the fitness industry as a whole.

If you have put your time in — getting your degree, obtaining every accredited certification you could get your hands on and starting at the bottom of the food chain, scraping your way to the top, you may be feeling frustrated and perhaps a little defeated.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that there are 76.4 million baby boomers. There were actually a total of 76 million births in the United States from 1946 to 1964, the 19 years usually called the “baby boom.” Based on these staggering numbers, many nationally certifying bodies are realizing the need for medical fitness professionals. They are looking to change the industry, set standards for our fitness professionals, and require advanced education in order to work with any special population. In the next few years, we are going to see the pendulum swing in the fitness industry. There is a movement towards medical fitness and you can get in at the ground level, setting yourself apart from the low-level trainers. You will be able to create a niche market that will open doors in the medical community, increase referrals and increase revenue.

Perhaps you or someone you love has been touched by cancer; there were an estimated 18 million cancer cases around the world in 2018!

  • One-quarter of new cancer cases are diagnosed in people aged 65 to 74
  • Median age at diagnosis is 61 years for breast cancer, 68 years for colorectal cancer, 70 years for lung cancer and 66 years for prostate cancer

In 2018, there were approximately 43.8 million cancer survivors diagnosed within the previous five years. By 2040, the global burden is expected to grow to 27.5 million new cancer cases. During the COVID-19 pandemic we are seeing that cancer patients, as well as others with compromised immune systems, are more alone and isolated than ever. This provides an unprecedented opportunity for you to provide a necessary and life-changing service to those in treatment or recovering from cancer. The Cancer Exercise Training Institute offers an online university fast-track program that also includes business coaching and training to take your business online. In five weeks, you can sit for the exam and, with at least an 80% passing grade, become a Cancer Exercise Specialist.

To some of you, working with what would appear to be an aging or sick population may not be of interest. You need to decide if you want to be like every other trainer, creating beach bodies and six-packs, or if you want to really make a difference in someone’s quality of life, and your success as a trainer. Think outside the box. Beyond the baby boomers, we have athletes and adolescents who have diabetes, who suffer with obesity, have asthma, cancer and so much more. This is a relatively untapped market.

For those of you who are up for a challenge, willing to step outside of your comfort zone and explore a new and exciting avenue in fitness, this offers a tremendous opportunity. There will always be those who want to lose weight, get toned, get ripped and improve sports performance, but after a while you can do that in your sleep. When you have clients that can’t get out of bed, can’t get up and down from a chair or can’t even perform self-care, and you are able to help them to take control of their life and their body in a way they never imagined was possible, it is truly the most meaningful and rewarding part of your career.

As we change the standards in the fitness industry, specialized training will be a requirement and you will be one step ahead of the game. By setting up meetings with nurses, doctors, patient navigators and support groups, you exponentially increase your potential client base. The unqualified trainer will not even be able to get in the door. The medical community will not accept a trainer without appropriate credentials.

As a highly credentialed trainer, you can establish yourself as a blog writer, magazine contributor and speaker. Opportunities may range from speaking to a support group at a local hospital to becoming a keynote speaker at a huge event. You can even conduct local or destination retreats for specific groups (i.e.; breast cancer, diabetes, juvenile diabetes, active aging etc.). The doors will also open up to you at medical fitness facilities and possibly hospitals that are looking for highly credentialed medical fitness professionals.

There are certainly other ways that you can make your mark and create unique marketing opportunities, but many of those will come and go with various trends and fads in fitness. Sadly, we live in a country that believes that “bigger is better” and wants “more for their money.” This has led to an epidemic of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, among other things. People will continue to age and whether it’s through the natural aging process or poor self-care, this is a market that is here to stay.

This article was featured in the summer 2020 issue of MedFit Professional Magazine. Click to read the latest issue and get your free subscription.


Andrea Leonard is the Founder and President of the Cancer Exercise Training Institute. She is a certified as a corrective exercise specialist by The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), as a personal trainer by The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and as a Special Populations Expert by The Cooper Institute. She is also a continuing education provider for the National Academy of Sports Medicine and The American Council on Exercise.

Elder woman training with physiotherapist

Time to Make House Calls?

As more healthcare companies see the benefits, it presents a huge opportunity for qualified medical fitness practitioners

Studies have shown that the number of physicians making house calls is increasing. One of the reasons house calls might be back on the rise is because the senior population of the U.S. is growing at a rapid pace. Years ago, most physicians would make house calls for their patients.

feet sneakers

The Feet: The Body’s Foundation

The feet are one of the most overused and taken for granted parts of the body. Since the feet are the foundation for the rest of the body, it would only be logical to begin developing strong, aligned, and full functioning feet from the start when developing a personalized fitness program. The feet should be a priority for developing sound fitness education in order to prevent injuries. Most fitness and sport injuries usually involve the feet. Even when the injury is to the knee, hip or back it can usually be traced back to a misaligned foot pattern.

In the fitness and wellness world there is hardly ever a designated focus on the feet. Since the feet are involved in almost all fitness activities it would make sense that starting with a careful assessment of a person’s feet would be the best place to start. Observing how a person stands, walks, runs, and moves normally can tell you why a person might have a hip, knee, or lower back problem. People who have difficulty with balance almost always have a foot alignment and gait which cannot support the body in movement. Maintaining and working foot function is crucial for insuring continuous mobility, and independence in populations who are handi-capped, have had strokes, who have M.S. or Parkinson’s, or diabetes.

Feet often are good indicators for what is going on in other parts of the body. Abnormalities or pain in the feet can often be a precursor for more serious health conditions. This means that we as wellness practitioners and fitness experts need to pay attention to the feet so much more than is commonly done today.

As wellness/fitness educators it makes sense to understand the anatomy of the feet. It is easy to understand and be able to explain to clients that there are three posterior muscles which go into the plantar foot, three muscles into the dorsal foot. There are three muscles which attach at the calcaneus stabilizing the ankle, heel and lower leg to knee. Both the tibialis posterior and anterior are major stabilizers and the flexors and extensors can only reach their insertions based on the full function of these two muscles. It is not difficult to give people simple and clear understandings of these basic muscles and how they need to be in balance in order for the muscles of the legs to work correctly.

Throughout the body we train muscle groups and chains to function and support the body in movement. These muscles are largely unrestricted by outside forces. Only in the feet are the muscle insertions cut off and thus, restrict the muscles from their full function.

This means that over time the muscle chains will slowly contract upward from these restricted insertions. Wearing shoes to train restricts full function of the feet and legs. This in no way means you should train people barefoot, however, it does mean that part of each training session should be focusing on the feet without shoes worn.

Here are simple facts about the feet:

  • There are 52 bones in your feet which makes up 1/4 of the bones in your body. This means that it pays to focus on the anatomy of the feet and to best understand how to transfer weight through them.
  • Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles and tendons which are supposed to hold the structure and allow it to move the rest of the body. The more you can analyze a person’s gait and standing position and observe which muscles are not being used properly and where weight is impacting and damaging the foot, the easier it can become to correct the problem and prevent injuries.
  • 75% of all Americans will experience foot problems at some point in their lives. This is epidemic. More people are living active lives and more foot injuries are occurring annually. Starting at the feet is essential for avoiding foot injuries.
  • With a foot injury, without education about how to change the way a person is using his feet, the injury will continue to occur and worsen with time. Using orthotics and other devices does not re-educate the feet. They are temporary fixes. Over time a person will continue to breakdown in the same pattern while weight bearing into the orthotic.
  • When walking the feet receive more pressure into them than the actual weight of a person and when running it can be up to four times the weight of a person. Learning how to use the entire foot when walking allows a transfer of weight throughout the foot. This can mean a person stops walking into the same point repetitively breaking down. Weight needs to be transferred equally through the feet.
  • Only a small percentage of people are actually born with foot problems. People blame foot problems on their genetics. Genetics in the feet as well as in any other structural part of the body can be identified and improved upon to avoid repeating the family pattern.

Bringing the Best Foot Practices into the Medical Fitness Community

It is important to bring the feet into your client’s fitness/wellness program. Learn how to break foot education down so it is mindful and allows a person the ability to understand how to use his/her feet. Here are some pointers:

  • Observe how your client stands, walks, and runs to see the most used foot pattern.
  • Observe where this pattern might be repetitively stressing and impacting the joints of the feet and above in the body.
  • Teach a client how to walk and stand in parallel with feet at hips distance a part.
  • Train people how to transfer their weight from the heels, through the outside of the feet, through the transverse arch from lateral foot to medial, from fifth toe to big toe. The knee must stay in line with the middle foot when the big toe presses down into the floor.
  • Explain what pronation and supination are. Explain the difference between pronation and collapsing the feet medial breaking down the arch.
  • Train clients how to activate and strengthen and stretch their toes.
  • If your client is weight bearing into the medial knee, focus on the feet to realign the knees and avoid a knee injury.
  • The more you bring a foot practice into your program, the better your results will be and the less injuries will be experienced.

Learn more from Yamuna on this topic! Register to watch her webinar, Rebuilding Healthy Foot Function.


Yamuna Zake is a visionary healer dedicated to demystifying the body and providing simple, powerful tools that make lifelong fitness and well-being a reality for everyone. She has developed her deep knowledge of how the body works over forty years, starting at sixteen, when she became a certified hatha yoga instructor. She is the founder of Yamuna, a leading source of education for teachers, therapists, and fitness instructors interested in expanding their knowledge in BodySustainability which can enhance their core expertise, and often lead to a longer term interest in becoming a certified Yamuna instructor.

 

References

  • Information taken from Illinois Pediatric Medical association – Simple facts
  • Yamuna Foot Fitness Training Manuals – Bringing best foot Practices
trainer-client-crutches

Closing the Trust Gap: Are personal training certifications failing medical fitness?

For over 30 years, the alphabet soup of letter-bearing personal training certification companies like ACE, NASM, NSCA and ISSA have focused on providing education leading to a fitness certification. While the companies have differing audiences and missions, collectively they have failed to truly make the connection between the fitness industry and the healthcare industry.

Personal trainers tend to be health advocates (and sometimes zealots) who show up as the face of the fitness industry. They tend to actually live and practice the life they espouse. Most leave the industry quickly, but even as they leave personal training and continue throughout their careers they tend to retain their core values around fitness.

Listen to almost any group of personal trainers and you’ll hear them speak passionately about the value of fitness and the ability to help control or eliminate diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and some forms of cancer. For their more affluent customers, personal trainers are frontline soldiers in a battle for healthier living.

So, how is it that well-intentioned organizations that believe that healthier living improves lives and who have over 350,000 personal trainers working in America alone have been unable to connect those trainers to the next higher level of their mission? What has gone so wrong that the average consumer would more likely connect a personal trainer to an Instagram or social media influencer than to their healthcare provider?

In a recent ISSA survey, personal training buyers were asked what education or qualifications were required to become a personal trainer. Nearly 80% of those surveyed did not know. Fortunately, nearly everyone surveyed believed that some form of education or certification was required. Perhaps consumers would have the same answer if the question was asked regarding nursing or other healthcare positions other than that of a doctor.

In this situation and those like it in America, we are accustomed to trusting the person in the job has the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job. We may not know how or why, but we have given them the magic ingredient — trust.

In our society, we fundamentally trust that by achieving the title of doctor, the holder will do no harm and will have the secret to curing what ails us. Do we trust that our personal trainer will do no harm and will have the secret to help us achieve our fitness goals? Not so much.

In the same ISSA survey, buyers of personal training were asked if personal trainers could help clients lose weight and 90% answered yes. When asked if personal trainers could help cure type 2 diabetes only 10% answered yes. There was an 80% difference when asked the same question in the context of personal training goals versus medical goals!

It would seem logical that if the same question was asked in the context of knee pain or joint pain and heart disease or blood pressure the results would be the same.

We trust that personal trainers understand how to improve our fitness, but we don’t connect our fitness to our healthcare. This is a trust gap.

This trust gap is the most fundamental issue preventing all of the subsequent steps which need to happen in order for medical fitness to thrive. There can be no insurance reimbursement or physician prescription of exercise as medicine as long as we don’t first believe our health is in our control and that fitness professionals can help their clients achieve results.

Today, even physicians who believe in exercise as medicine are reluctant to refer clients. Despite some of the most forward-looking physicians and groups bringing exercise and personal training into their medical practice, compliance remains spotty and reimbursement varies widely.

A recent study provided insights around prescribing exercise as medicine in the treatment of 26 different diseases: psychiatric diseases (depression, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia); neurological diseases (dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis); metabolic diseases (obesity, hyperlipidemia, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes); cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure, cerebral apoplexy, and claudication intermittent); pulmonary diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis); musculoskeletal disorders (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis); and cancer.

But, how much of this is studied by medical students and applied by physicians? Why does the majority of our society doubt fitness? Is it because we don’t trust fitness professionals? If so, what is the fitness certification world to do?

If we are to close this trust gap, the industry needs to achieve three milestones:

  1. Personal trainers need to have a common standard of professional knowledge and skill
  2. Required continuing education and training must be in place
  3. We need to have standards of care for fitness programming.

This requires that the industry through leadership such as IHRSA combined with companies like ISSA, NASM, ACSM, ACE and others eliminate the need for individual exams and certifications and move to a common standard of excellence for all.

In the absence of the fitness industry creating an environment where all parties can trust their personal trainer to provide safe and effective training programs, none of us can expect medical schools to teach fitness or doctors to prescribe exercise or insurance companies to reimburse for exercise.

COVID-19 has finally created a broad national awareness of the incredible risks of obesity and underlying medical conditions which largely could be controlled through diet and exercise. Now is the time to take action and help a new generation live healthier lives.

This article was featured in the summer 2020 issue of MedFit Professional Magazine. Click to read the latest issue and get your free subscription.


Andrew Wyant serves as the President of the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) after having helped successfully build and grow a series of businesses in a wide variety of industries. Since becoming ISSA’s leader in 2018, the ISSA has grown by over 400% and has become the No. 1 rated and reviewed personal training company in the world. Andrew is passionate about the potential personal trainers have to help improve our world by reducing the rates of preventable diseases. He has been deeply involved in the health and fitness industry since 2011.

male-trainer-male-client

The Roles of a Medical Fitness Practitioner: Scope of practice, prevention and interprofessional collaboration

Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by voluntarily contracting skeletal muscle that results in energy expenditure above a basal level. Physical activity has been demonstrated to positively affect over 30 chronic conditions and is considered the best deterrent of chronic disease in primary and secondary prevention. The main goal of a Medical Fitness Practitioner (MFP) in the healthcare continuum is to prevent the onset of chronic disease and bridge the gap between clinical intervention and conventional fitness programs. This is achieved by developing exercise programs for those who have, or are at risk for chronic disease or dysfunction, have health conditions that may be mitigated or managed by exercise and activity, are newly diagnosed with disease and need exercise guidance, or have completed a medically supervised rehabilitation program and need to continue to progress. A fitness professional versed in medical fitness protocols, such as an MFP, can work with those who are at risk for chronic disease.

Scope of Practice

Scope of practice refers to boundaries set by knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), as well as education, experience and demonstrated competency, such as a program of study, or an exam to measure proficiency. A basic personal training certification suggests the holder can develop exercise programs for apparently heathy clients. Unfortunately, considering the overweight and obesity rate is near 70%, and 50%-60% of the adult U.S. population has at least one chronic disease, adhering to scope of practice becomes increasingly important, yet at the same time many fitness professionals may be providing services outside their scope of practice, and beyond their level of certification. By accepting a client, the trainer is proposing a safe workout will be developed and implemented, and the client will not be at risk of injury. If advice is given that is not within the trainer’s scope of practice, the trainer and the facility may be subjected to a lawsuit.

An MFP who integrates medical fitness into practice has the KSAs, based on education, experience and demonstrated competency to conduct pre-participation interviews, perform fitness assessments and to design and implement health and fitness programs for disease management to avoid future injury and to improve activities of daily living. Unlike an MFP, unless otherwise educated, a fitness trainer who promotes medical fitness is not a licensed healthcare provider and does not possess the KSAs to diagnose an unknown condition, suggest supplements, design meal plans, physically touch a client or provide behavioral counseling.

Prevention

In the United States, medical care tends to focus on treatment rather than prevention. Whereas treatment is given for a diagnosed disease or injury, the goal of prevention is to avoid, improve or slow down the progression of a probable or possible disease or injury. Prevention can be categorized as primary, secondary or tertiary. The goal of primary prevention is to foster a life of wellness and therefore avoid or reduce the chance of disease or dysfunction. Primary prevention includes immunizations, targeted types of exercise, balanced nutrition and wellness and education programs. Secondary prevention is managing a symptomatic disease in the hopes of slowing down or reversing the progression. Examples include treatment for hypertension, asthma and some cancer treatments. Tertiary prevention involves the management and treatment of symptomatic disease with the goal of slowing progression and severity, as well as reducing disease related complications. Tertiary prevention includes treatment for late stage cancer, coronary heart disease and some types of rehabilitation to include orthopedic, cardiac and pulmonary. Physical activity has been demonstrated to effectively treat over 30 chronic conditions, mostly in primary prevention but also in secondary and tertiary, making it the number one intervention against chronic disease.

Interprofessional Collaboration

Due to the growing incidence of obesity and chronic disease, leveraging the skills of various providers who can collaborate to deliver the best possible care, based on clinical needs, is necessary to manage the complex health care demands of a population with an increasing incidence of comorbidities. Due to a worldwide shortage of health workers, in 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized interprofessional collaboration as means to mitigate the global clinician shortage, strengthen health systems and improve outcomes. Interprofessional collaboration refers to health care teams, made up of trained professionals with various backgrounds, who work alongside patients and their families to provide high-quality care, based on the needs of the patient. Consequently, as medical providers begin to recognize the need to prescribe evidence-based exercise as an intervention in the management of chronic disease, MFPs, who are on the front line of health care, are trained and educated to be part of a clinical team that complements and leverages the strengths of each team member to improve population health. As health-science and technology advance, it is imperative for fitness professionals who work with clients who have one or more chronic disease to remain up-to-date on emerging fitness protocols. An MFP is required to participate in continuing education in areas including cardiopulmonary disease, metabolic disorders and orthopedic dysfunction.

Although the scope of practice of many allied healthcare fields overlap, the role of the MFP is to work with the client’s team of other healthcare providers, while staying within the scope of practice, based on KSAs. Regardless of the collaborative health team, the client’s physician is always the center, and as such should be provided regular updates as to the client’s progress.

An MFP is uniquely qualified to work with individuals within the healthcare continuum. Some KSAs associated with MFPs are:

  • Knowledge of basic chronic disease pathophysiology
  • The use and side effects of common medications taken by someone suffering from a chronic disease
  • The knowledge to perform and analyze basic assessments related to movement and anthropometry
  • The knowledge to design a safe and effective workout based on information received via assessment results, and the clinical recommendations from other healthcare providers
  • FITT protocols, exercise progressions and regressions
  • The implications of exercise and activity for individuals with chronic disease
  • Contraindications of chronic disease, and signs and symptoms of distress related to chronic disease
  • Knowledge of signs and symptoms that require expertise outside of the scope of practice for medical exercise
  • The ability to recognize a medical emergency
  • Current CPR and adult AED are required

This article was featured in the summer 2020 issue of MedFit Professional Magazine. Click to read the latest issue and get your free subscription.


Dan Mikeska has a doctorate degree in Health Science and a master’s degree in Human Movement, as well as certifications from NASM, ACE, the Cancer Exercise Training Institute and the Exercise Is Medicine credential from ACSM. He currently owns NOVA Medical Exercise and Medical Exercise Academy and is adjunct faculty for A.T. Still University’s Master of Kinesiology program. Dan’s mission is to improve population health and to increase the quality of life by connecting education, medicine and fitness. 

trainer-senior-client-stretch

Why Fitness Professionals Should Join the MedFit Network

It is safe to assume that not everyone a fitness professional works with is injury- or disease-free. As a fitness professional, it is your responsibility to ensure that you provide your clientele with safe and effective programming. The question you have to ask yourself is: are you truly qualified and up to date on the latest information to work with your current (and future) clientele? A second question to ask is: are you marketing yourself to those who need you most in this healthcare crisis? If you’re honest, you should at least say that perhaps you are not.

Well, this is where the MedFit Network (MFN) can help! The MFN is both a professional membership organization for fitness and allied healthcare professionals and a free online resource directory for the community to locate professionals with a background in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation in working with those with chronic disease or medical conditions. As a fitness professional, here are three reasons why you should join the MedFit Network.

1: Raising the Fitness Professional Standards by Becoming a Medical Fitness Practitioner

MFN is dedicated to making sure fitness professionals are highly educated and prepared to work with any medical issue. The name given for this person is a Medical Fitness Practitioner (MFP). The MFP helps make the transition from medical management and/or physical therapy to a regular physical activity program following a surgery, an injury, a medical diagnosis or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. They also possess the training and skills to work with medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, neuromuscular disorders and heart disease. So, a medical fitness practitioner is not just a personal trainer but includes wellness- and health-related disciplines such as chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc.

2: Continuing Education

The MedFit Education Foundation (MFEF) is the nonprofit partner of the MedFit Network dedicated to elevating the quality and amount of available education for the medical fitness professional and the entire fitness and wellness community. For example, there is a Multiple Sclerosis Fitness Specialist and A Women’s Health, Fitness and Hormone Specialist course that are both one-of-a-kind. Continuing education is required for all their specialty courses. This is typically not the case. It is usually continuing education only for your certification. All of their continuing education courses are approved by a medical advisory board of some of the brightest professionals in the nation. MFEF also has weekly educational webinars that are included with your membership. These webinars are presented weekly (50 in total) by industry experts on such topics as medical fitness and active aging.

The MFN is an organization filled with people from all walks of the wellness professional spectrum. For example, they have MDs, PTs, chiropractors, dieticians, fitness and massage therapists to name a few. As a result, opportunities to network are endless. Because of this, current members have developed their own educational courses and even started their own blogs. Also, members have been able to designate their facility as medical fitness facilities by working with a member who specializes in helping people achieve this status.

The MedFit Network is a unique organization dedicated to improving the standards of the fitness and allied healthcare professional. The ability for the diseased community to go to a directory of qualified medical fitness professionals is something unheard of anywhere else. The three reasons given are just the tip of the iceberg as to why you should be a part of this movement, the MFN!

Click to learn more about joining the MedFit Network as a professional member.


This column was featured in the summer 2020 issue of MedFit Professional Magazine. Click to read the latest issue and get your free subscription.


Maurice Williams offers a rare combination of advanced academic training, personal experience as a competitive athlete, entrepreneur skills and 22 years of experience in personal fitness and training. He has a BS in Exercise/Sport Science from Elon College (Now Elon University) and an MS in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Ohio University. He currently serves as the Director of Membership Services for the MedFit Network.