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PROVIDERS ACTION GUIDE: STEP 4

Provide Your Patients with a Physical Activity Referral

Several studies have suggested that efforts made by health care systems to increase
patient physical activity are best accomplished by transforming “patients” into
“participants.”

Identify Community Programs
  • Task someone in your practice with building out your customized Community Physical Activity Resource Guide. This may include university or medical fitness facilities, health clubs, YMCAs, JCCs, parks and local community centers. Include facilities that offer specialty programs for individuals who may not typically feel comfortable at a gym such as evidence-based programming for older patients or those with medical conditions (i.e. cancer, arthritis, pre-diabetes). National organizations like the AHA, Arthritis Foundation or American Cancer Society can often direct you to local programs or resources.
  • If your health system or medical practice develops a partnership with a community-based fitness entity, the EHR can be programmed for easy referral. Patient navigators, health coaches or fitness facility coordinators can reach out to patients and assist with the process.
Find Qualified Exercise Professionals
  • Given the time limits of your busy practice, a qualified exercise professional (exercise physiologist, personal trainer or group exercise instructor) can extend the reach of your care by providing the expertise, supervision and motivation that will help patients adopt and maintain a habit of regular physical activity.
  • Unfortunately, the landscape of personal trainers and fitness instructors is confusing and often frustrating to sort through. The most well-respected national certifications are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). In addition, the NCCA accredits certifications for professional health care roles such as respiratory therapist, family nurse practitioner, emergency medical technician (EMT), registered dietitian (RD), and many others.
  • Some of the most recognized NCCA-accredited fitness certifications are:
    • American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
    • American Council on Exercise (ACE)
    • The Cooper Clinic
    • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
    • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
      • ​Organizations in bold offer clinical certifications
  • ​You can click here to find NCCA accredited certifications.
Questions to ask about an Exercise Professional
  • Do they hold a four-year degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology, or a health-related field from an accredited university?
  • Do they have an accreditted fitness or clinical fitness certification? 
  • Are they certified in CPR/AED?
  • Do they have liability insurance? 
  • What is their experience with various types of clients and special populations? 
  • Will they provide feedback on your patient's initial evaluation, goals, progress? Let them know what works best for you. You can access sample Initial Fitness Assessment/Physical Activity Plan and Patient Fitness Progress Report templates for use by an EIM exercise professional. 
What is the EIM Credential?

EIM has developed a credential to ensure that exercise professionals are properly prepared to work with referred patients. Exercise professionals may receive either a clinical or health fitness credential, contingent upon meeting certain education, certification and continuing education requirements. When required, the EIM educational course provides exercise professionals with additional knowledge to help them work more effectively with patients with common chronic conditions.

The EIM course includes information about:

  • Common chronic medical conditions – exercise Rx, modifications, precautions
  • Behavioral support techniques to promote the adoption and maintenance of physical activity
  • Health care essentials (HIPAA, documentation, communication, terminology, scope of practice)

Click here to for more information about the EIM Credential.

Proceed to Step 5: Promote Physical Activity in Your Clinic
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Support for the Exercise is Medicine© Initiative is provided by:

Support for the Exercise is Medicine© Initiative is provided by:

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