ACSM CPT Chapter 19: Populations Across the Lifespan
ACSM CPT Chapter 19: Populations Across the Lifespan 1

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Chapter Objectives:

  • Know the value of physical activity for kids and make exercise programs that are age appropriate.
  • Know the physiological changes that happen due to age and make optimal programs for older adults.
  • Discuss programming for exercise while pregnant or postpartum.

Programming for Children 

Children and adolescents count as people that are 6 to 17 years old. It is recommended that children do a minimum of 60 minutes of activity every day, consisting of moderate and vigorous intensities, and also to include some form of resistance and bone loading type exercise for 3 days a week.

Regular endurance, resistance, and bone loading exercise will confer some favorable training adaptations for children, which benefits metabolic, cardiovascular, and skeletal health.

Physical Activity for Children

Personal trainers play a role in identifying various age-appropriate activities for children for the safe and effective development of aerobic, muscular, and bone strength.

When children have not been doing the 60 minutes of recommended time, it is important to work up to that level slowly. 

The two main goals that trainers should have in mind when making programs for children are:

  • The program needs to meet the recommended time for physical activity that is needed to achieve the health benefits that come with regular activity.
  • Children should be encouraged to do many activities that they enjoy and are appropriate for their age. So things should be fun and safe when working with children.

Other Considerations for Children

Children need to be properly supervised, and the activities in resistance training need to be safe. They should be watched carefully and supervised the whole time.

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The general principles that we applied to adults in the previous chapter on resistance training can also be applied to children. There is, however, even more importance placed on the proper instruction of lifting technique as this is a time for kids when they are developing. 

One thing that children have is a thermoregulatory system that is underdeveloped and thus more prone to getting heat-related injuries than adults. Proper hydration is very important.

Programming for Older Adults

Aging happens for everyone, and life expectancy in the US has increased by about 30 years since 1900. It is currently 81.2 for women and 76.4 for men. We actually define older adults as anyone that is older than 64.

The range of changes and the magnitude of those changes are dependent upon genetics, someone’s own health, the presence of any diseases or injuries, and a history of exercise. People that are close in age can have very different functional capacities, which affects their own responses to exercise. 

Physiological Changes in Aging

The resting heart rate remains the same virtually, but the maximum heart rate will steadily decline when aging. Our max stroke volume and our max cardiac output will also decline with age. The stroke volume goes down by 10% and max cardiac output by 20% from the ages of 30 – 60. There is about a 9% decrease in VO2 max per decade for sedentary people. 

We have declined in our anaerobic capacity with increases in age and are less able to do high-intensity exercise. 

Between the ages of 45 and 85, there is a much-decreased flow of blood to the brain and a decrease of about 20% in the brain’s weight. Many of these same weight decreases happen in the muscles along with increases in fat stored in the muscles and the body as a whole. 

Exercise Testing Can Make A Difference

There are about 50% of these decreases can be stopped by staying active and exercising. So, this also means the other 50% of decreases that happen are just due to the actual aging process and are essentially unavoidable. 

Successful Aging

Exercise is proven to increase our quality and length of life. 

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Regularly being involved with aerobic, anaerobic, resistance, flexibility, and functional training are key to aging successfully. 

Exercise Testing in Older Adults

It is likely that older adults have some big chronic disease issues; Thus, the trainers need to make sure that they do a thorough assessment before starting a program with the population.

Trainers need to make programs for older adults that have these three main goals:

  • Prevent and/or delay chronic disease progression.
  • Keep or even potentially enhance your cardiorespiratory levels.
  • Stop and do not allow functional limitations and disabilities.

Design Considerations for Developing Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Older Adults

The most important goal for older adults should be working on cardiorespiratory fitness, as having it low would contribute to early disease. 

Regularly being active in life will significantly lower the normal age-related changes and restore functional capacity in sedentary adults.

There should be about 150 – 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 – 100 for vigorous intensities.

Design Considerations for Developing Muscular Strength in Older Adults

As we age, there is a large reduction in muscle mass, which will also lead to less strength and functional capacity. The general principles we used for adults can be applied here, too. Even things like explosive power training are fine for older adults to do. 

Range of motion should be highly focused on so that the clients can develop properly. This is always the focus in training of all ages, but it can be more challenging for older adults.

Design Considerations for Developing Flexibility in Older Adults

This is an essential fitness component; it goes down as we age and is not physically active. Out connective tissues become stiffer, making the bending of joints harder.

The same flexibility program recommendations apply to older adults.

Design Considerations for Developing Balance in Older Adults

The falling rates go up as we age, and an important feature of the programs is that trainers should make for the inclusion of balance-based exercises. 

This can be put into many different phases of exercise sessions, and the balance training should be done 3 days every week and for 10 – 15 minutes.

Programming during Pregnancy and Postpartum

Like many other populations, physical activities for pregnant and postpartum people will have many benefits, and these people should be highly encouraged to participate in them.

Preparticipation Screening Exercise during Pregnancy and Postpartum

Before participating in exercise programs, these clients should be evaluated by their obstetric provider to ensure no contraindications. There are specific forms for pregnant women to have filled out for prescreening.

General Exercise Considerations during Pregnancy and Postpartum

The fatigue, vomiting, and nausea that come with pregnancy may limit their exercise in the first trimester, and trainers need to know about the increase in their nutritional needs. 

Reduced thermoregulatory control during pregnancy is important to note.

The physiological changes from pregnancy will go on for about 4 – 6 weeks after pregnancy, but typically we see women return to exercise right after.

Aerobic Exercise Prescription during Pregnancy

The general principles from chapter 15 will also apply to pregnant and postpartum women. There are, however, some adaptations that trainers will be making due to anatomical and physiological changes.

Resistance Training and Flexibility Prescription during Pregnancy

The principles found throughout chapters 14 and 16 apply to pregnant women but might be slightly changed to account for the morphological and physiological changes occurring.

ACSM CPT Chapter 19: Populations Across the Lifespan 2
ACSM CPT Chapter 19: Populations Across the Lifespan 3
ACSM CPT Chapter 19: Populations Across the Lifespan 4

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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