According to ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, “potential [exercise] participants should be screened for the presence, signs, symptoms, and/or risk factors of various cardiovascular, pulmonary, and metabolic diseases as well as other conditions that require special attention.” Yet despite these recommendations, a recent study has found that many fitness
facilities do not require new members to complete pre-exercise screenings.

The study, published in the March 2009 issue of Preventive Cardiology (2009; 12 [3], 155–62), found that only 40 of 123 health/fitness facilities asked members to complete a pre-exercise screening. And for those that did, only 50% required physician clearance for high-risk members prior to participation. The researchers also determined six reasons why managers and directors were not conducting screens:

  • Many didn’t see a need for the questionnaires, owing to the perceived good health of participants.,
  • Some managers felt that they had limited time to train and
    administer screenings.
  • There were concerns that screenings would intimidate prospective members and deter them from joining the facility.
  • Others felt that it was up to the individual to be personally
    responsible and understand the risks involved in exercise.
  • Many managers had been advised by legal counsel to learn
    as little about their members as possible. According to the
    respondents, having less information about an individual
    diminished the facility’s legal risk.
  • Some franchises and business owners prohibited the use of pre-exercise screenings.

What do you think? Should all fitness facilities require potential members to complete a pre-exercise screening? E-mail your
response to [email protected]