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Through leadership, resource support, and shared efforts the NCSF will work to establish policy and regulatory standards for exercise and physical activity leaders to promote safe and effective physical activity for everyone. The NCSF has several legislative goals that will create a better environment for physical activity participation in the United States. Each of these goals independently will provide for greater societal benefit but have the greatest impact when they are implemented and function cooperatively.
Exercise professionals are best positioned, based on education, training, and measured expertise to deliver well care; that defined as treatment to prevent illness or return one back to health. The current model is broken, as it is ineffective and costly. Leaders in medicine realize the path to America’s health is preventative medicine through physical activity and improved health behaviors. Qualified Exercise Professionals are ideally prepared for this role. Legislators should recognize this pool of professionals as a perfect resource and expect them to be appropriately vetted for their role in prevention.
Paths of best practice clearly exist for professional competency assurance. In the United States, the Board examinations which assess competency are the preferred method for regulated professions, common of law, medicine, and allied health fields. These exams are based on content derived from in- depth study of a profession and exam instruments created from experts using sound psychometric principles. NCCA accreditation is the current distinction that represents a third-party evaluation of consistent standards for health fields aligned with Fitness professions such as Athletic Training and Nursing. This is relevant as it accounts for several key elements:
Knowledge is assessed specific to the defined role – these roles are represented in the United States Registry of Exercise Professionals (USREPS)
Professionals are specifically qualified to provide the services associated with the role for which they are certified
Professionals must maintain ongoing knowledge and skills specific to the role they have been certified to perform
Certification programs have a fiduciary responsibility to properly indentify those above the minimum competency level for a profession so they are truly qualified to provide safe and effective services. They must be appropriately educated, trained, and assessed for those defining qualifications. The reason that an education distinction alone, such as a degree or certificate, fails to meet these needs is it lacks objective, consistent evaluative criteria which is necessary to protect the consumer. Many students graduate with degrees and subsequently fail board exams. This indicates the potential disconnect between education-time-served and fair, unbiased, standardized measures of competency. Certainly professionals need to be well educated and trained to develop the requisite competencies and skills to succeed. A passion for physical activity and an interest to work in an exercise profession is not enough to protect consumers from harm due without adequate professional knowledge and skill development. Similarly participation in an education program without validated outcomes may not provide for the key elements that make a professional safe and effective. NCCA accredited programs for exercise professionals assure consumers the distinction reflects:
Professionals have been validly tested for competency against a uniform standard
Have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities defined as necessary to carry-out safe and effective delivery of services
Professionals who are held accountable to the scope of the profession, ethics and standards of practice, and expectations of consumers that they have been vetted to provide the specific skill set associated with the profession role they serve
Currently 80% of the Nation fails to get enough physical activity and exercise, including our youth. It is important to help people understand the implications of insufficient physical activity on health, and provide for means to attain adequate daily movement. This requires policy that promotes public engagement in physical activity and exercise in a manner that reduces barriers including safety, cost, and access to participation of varied nature. Likewise, public and private institutions need assistance in getting our school-based youth and workforce more active. This starts with identifying those qualified for leadership roles, provides for adequate resources, and encourages all sectors to make physical activity a priority.