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Copyright 2008,
American Senior Fitness
Association

The National Curriculum Standards to Prepare Senior Fitness Instructors were developed by a coalition of fitness professionals representing the following organizations:

  • Aerobics and Fitness Association of America

  • American Council on Exercise

  • American Senior Fitness Association

  • Cooper Institute of Aerobics Research

  • Council on Aging and Adult Development of the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance

  • Desert Southwest Fitness

  • Ruby Gerontology Center of California State University at Fullerton

The preliminary document was presented at the 1995 International Conference on Aging and Physical Activity in Colorado. Input from the conferees was then synthesized into the standards, which are provided in the following paper.

 

Jones, J. & Clark, J. (1998)
Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
6, 207-221


STANDARD 1:

OVERVIEW OF AGING AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Training programs should include general background information about the aging process and the benefits of an active lifestyle.

  1. Demographic information and various definitions of aging (including pathological, usual, and successful aging).

  2. The benefits of physical activity as it relates to disease prevention, health promotion, and quality of life.

STANDARD 2:

EXERCISE SCIENCE AND PSYCHOSOCIAL
ASPECTS OF AGING


Training programs should include physiological, biomechanical, and motor learning principles to develop safe and effective physical activity/exercise programs for older adults.

Specific topics:

  1. Physiological and functional changes associated with aging (e.g., the cardiovascular And respiratory systems, the musculoskeletal system, and the central nervous system) and how these changes may impact exercise activity and program design.

  2. Applied movement analysis and motor learning principles for proper selection and implementation of specific exercises which will enhance functional capacity.

  3. Society's stigma regarding aging, the disengagement theory, the "sandwich syndrome," and common psychological problems associated with aging (i.e., loneliness, depression, anxiety).

  4. Demographic considerations as they relate to individual participation in physical activity programs.

STANDARD 3:

ASSESSMENT


Training programs should include information on selection, administration, and interpretation of appropriate preexercise health screening and activity , lifestyle, and fitness assessments to provide a basis for exercise program design, and to make appropriate referrals to other health professionals.

Specific topics:

  1. Criteria for test selection.

  2. Cardiovascular risk factor identification.

  3. Health, activity, and other lifestyle appraisals.

  4. Background and medical screening.

  5. Physiological and functional fitness assessments (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, waist to hip ratio, and field tests for strength, flexibility, submaximal endurance, and functional mobility).

  6. Accepted national guidelines for exercise testing and prescription (American College of Sports Medicine, 1995).

STANDARD 4:

EXERCISE PROGRAM DESIGN


Training programs should include information on using the results of the preexercise assessment to make appropriate decisions regarding individual and group exercise program design.

Specific topics:

  1. How to interpret data for effective program development and exercise modifications.

  2. Physical and functional fitness components related to activities of daily living (i.e., strength, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, balance, agility, coordination, and various mobility tasks-gait, stair climbing, standing up, reaching, lifting).

  3. Appropriate application of exercise principles (i.e., mode, frequency, duration, intensity, progression).

  4. Training formats and session designs for different functional abilities.

  5. Individual and group exercise sequencing and exercise program structure.

  6. Economic considerations and consequent equipment options.

  7. Participant recruitment and tracking.

Training programs should include information on establishing, with client input, realistic, measurable short- and long-term goals for the client.

Specific topics:

  1. Methods used to identify client goals.

  2. Motivation, exercise adherence, and behavior modification with respect to goal setting.

  3. Use of pre-assessment data in goal setting.
     

STANDARD 5:

TEACHING AND LEADERSHIP

Training programs should include information on leading safe and effective individualized and group cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility training.

Specific topics:

  1. Senior-appropriate exercise, including warm-up, aerobic exercise, strength training, and cool-down/relaxation.

  2. The application and implementation of various exercise methods.

  3. Relaxation classes, aquatics, and fitness walking programs.

  4. Appropriate monitoring and adjustment of intensity levels and other training variables.

  5. Factors affecting exercise compliance (i.e., medical history, culture, safety, family and physician reinforcement).

Training programs should include information on how to incorporate effective motivational, communication, and leadership skills related to teaching individual and group exercise classes.

Specific topics:

  1. Group dynamics.

  2. The application of enthusiasm.

  3. The creation of a safe and comfortable environment.

  4. Positive feedback and reinforcement.

  5. Identification of, and modification for, individual needs, values, and interests.

  6. Gender and ethnic-cultural differences.

  7. The application of caring, compassion, and support.

  8. Making activities fun (e.g., use of humor, special equipment, creative movements, music, novelty, and props).

  9. Appropriate motivational rewards.

STANDARD 6:

INJURY PREVENTION, FIRST AID, AND
EMERGENCY PROCEDURES


Training programs should include information on preventing injury by adapting exercise for fitness level and medical conditions.

Specific topics:

  1. Age-related medical conditions (e.g., cardiovascular disease, hypertension, respiratory disorders, obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, diabetes, balance and motor control deficits, visual and hearing disorders, and urinary incontinence).

  2. How to adapt group and individual exercise programs to accommodate for age- related medical conditions, and for people recovering from falls, operations, and illness.

  3. How to adapt group and individual exercise programs to accommodate for prosthetics (e.g., artificial hips, knees, legs).

Training programs should include information on the physiological and psychological effects of common medications at rest and during exercise.

Specific topics:

  1. Common medications/exercise interactions such as reduced heart rate and systemic blood pressure, postural hypotension, arrhythmias, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, balance and coordination problems, altered depth perception, depression, confusion,
    dehydration, and urinary incontinence.

Training programs should include information on how to respond appropriately to first aid and emergency situations.

Specific topics:

  1. Signs that indicate immediate exercise cessation and/or immediate medical consultation.

  2. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

  3. Emergency medical service activation.

  4. The appropriate response to emergency situations ( e.g., cardiac arrest, airway obstruction, emergencies requiring rescue breathing, heat- and cold-related injuries, musculoskeletal injuries including strains, sprains and fractures, diabetic emergencies, bleeding, falls, seizures, and shock).

  5. How to establish an emergency action plan.


STANDARD 7:

ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS

Training programs should include information on legal, ethical, and professional standards.

Specific topics:

  1. Legal issues and fitness instruction, including legal concepts and terminology.

  2. Issues related to lawsuits, including scope of practice, industry standards, and negligence; types of applicable insurance coverage.

  3. Personal bounds of competence.

  4. Ethical standards for the fitness instructor profession.

  5. Methods of continuing education to enhance one's professional skills.

  6. Making appropriate referrals to physicians and other qualified health professionals.

National Coalition Members

C. Jessie Jones, Committee Chair, Ruby Gerontology Center, California State University Fullerton
Janie Clark, The American Senior Fitness Association
Richard Cotton, American Council on Exercise
Laura Gladwin, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America
Gwen Hyatt, Desert Southwest Fitness, Inc.
Lee Morgan, Cooper Institute of Aerobic Research
Kay Van Norman, Council on Aging and Adult Development (a structure within AHPERD)

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