Physical activity (PA) is a powerful complement to traditional medical intervention and, in many instances, allows a physician to significantly reduce a patient's drug dosage or eliminate the need for medicine altogether. Exercise professionals serve a continuum of client needs: Some clients wish to optimize their athletic performance; some wish to improve their fitness; and, increasingly, many wish to elevate their PA levels to prevent or manage chronic disease. Exercise professionals play an integral role in educating clients about the benefits of becoming more active and in communicating how clients can speak with their primary care physicians about ways to increase their PA. However, doing so requires a paradigm shift, as exercise professionals must learn to see themselves as extensions of a healthcare “team” -- working with the clinical care team on the other side of the healthcare system-to-community bridge. Organizations and locations that are designated as EIM Places are also becoming a part of this shift.
As part of this transformation, EIM Exercise Professionals must learn a new skill set to successfully integrate themselves as part of the healthcare team and to impact the overall PA levels and health status of their clients beyond their regular training sessions. For example, in this ever-changing healthcare environment, health fitness professionals must be able to:
- Receive provider referrals
- Develop and implement exercise training programs for a variety of acute and chronic disease conditions
- Communicate information about the patient back to the healthcare provider