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Updates from EIM

A Physical Activity Toolkit for Registered Dietitians: A Collaborative Effort Between EIM & AND

August 25, 2021 by Melinda M. Manore, Ph.D., R.D., FACSM, Laura J Kruskall, Ph.D., R.D.N., CSSD, L.D., FACSM, FAND

We all know that nutrition and physical activity (PA) are important for health, yet few individuals hold credentials by accrediting organizations for practice in both areas. Many dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) don’t feel they have the knowledge, skill or confidence in providing PA counseling to their clients. They want to know if the PA advice given differs based on their client’s health issues and body weight? Are the PA recommendations for clients with diabetes or hypertension different? Do the medications these individuals are using change the PA recommendations? What if this same client is overweight or obese? Is there simple PA advice they can provide while still staying within their knowledge/skill base and their scope of practice? Although all RDNs should know the basics about PA, the level of their PA knowledge beyond the basics will depend on their education and training. In addition, RDNs may not know how PA can impact the pathophysiology of a particular disease, such a diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease. If an RDN doesn’t feel comfortable giving PA advice to a client, how can they get more training and still stay within their scope of practice? How can they find an exercise professional they can refer clients to?  The flip is also true of many exercise professionals; they typically have limited training in nutrition, food preparation, dietary patterns and the impact of diet on health or specific diseases. They are also not sure what food and nutrition advice they can provide and stay within their scope of practice, or how to find an RDN they can work with and refer clients.

Because of this ‘crossing-the-line’ dilemma, Exercise is Medicine (EIM), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) collaborated to develop the Physical Activity Toolkit for RDNs. This toolkit is designed to help RDNs begin to talk to their clients about PA, yet staying within their knowledge and skill level, and scope of practice. The toolkit also guides them through the process of finding a qualified exercise professional to whom they can confidently refer clients. This toolkit addresses the following three questions:

  • How does providing PA related to an RDN’s individual scope of practice?
  • How can being knowledgeable about PA, being competent in providing PA guidance, and incorporating PA recommendations into a practice help a client reach their nutrition and health goals?
  • How can providing PA guidance to a client enhance the quality of your nutrition and dietetic practice?

In addition to answering the questions above, the toolkit carefully walks the reader through the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines, outlines how PA can fit within the Nutrition Care Process, gives examples of how to begin adding PA to your practice, and provides five case studies (metabolic syndrome, obesity, overweight, cardiovascular disease, and sport performance) and answers to demonstrate the process.

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