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Better exercise pre-screening to ease liability fears

Better exercise pre-screening to ease liability fears
April 10, 2012

The introduction of a consistent pre-exercise screening system for use by fitness professionals, exercise physiologists and other allied health practitioners promises to ease liability fears among doctors over 'fit to exercise' certificates.

It is hoped that the Adult Pre-Exercise Screening System, developed by peak health and fitness organisations; Fitness Australia, Exercise and Sports Science Australia and Sports Medicine Australia, will also improve the confidence of GPs in recommending clients undertake physical activity programs.

GPs recently raised concerns that they could be left liable for exercise-related injuries if they signed off on 'fit to exercise' certificates.

Currently there are a wide range of pre-screening requirements for gyms and personal trainers. The priority for the fitness industry is to gain a complete understanding about client health risks through a screening questionnaire and appropriate measurements such as central waist and blood pressure. This information then becomes the basis for safe and effective exercise prescription.

Fitness Australia Chief Executive Lauretta Stace, said the aim of the system was to establish a consistent approach to pre-exercise screening and ensure that clients achieve better health outcomes and sustained physical activity throughout their lifespan.

Stace explained "the benefits of the new pre-screening system include clearer processes, coordinated service delivery between GPs and exercise professionals and ultimately better health outcomes for clients.

"This is about making sure trainers are aware of risks and individual physical capabilities. It is the start of the conversation and where necessary fitness professionals will seek further guidance so they can assist in the safest way possible those aspiring to change their lifestyle and get fit.

"It's also important to put the risks in perspective - fitness training in a gym or outside with a personal trainer is in reality a very low-risk activity.

"It must also be emphasised that in the context of rising obesity and inactivity levels across the Australian population, the health benefits of physical activity far outweigh the risks of being sedentary."

Fitness Australia, Exercise & Sports Science Australia and Sports Medicine Australia are now undertaking national implementation of this system across their memberships. 




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