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Designing Exercise Programs With Clients

Work with clients to boost mental health.

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Trainer and client designing exercise programs together

To support mental health improvements, you may want to engage clients in choosing what type and intensity of training they prefer. New research suggests that when participants actively help with adapting and designing exercise programs to their own preferences, they more effectively improve mental health, body awareness, autonomy and exercise self-regulation.

Study authors noted that “health professionals and fitness coaches should be aware of the limitations of current exercise guidelines and be educated on co-designing instead of prescription exercise.” The goal is “to lead practitioners from dependency to autonomy, providing training criteria instead of exercise receipts; and, to contribute to development of interoceptive awareness to prevent injuries, detect deleterious training effect like overtraining and promote a multi-dimensional fitness state.”

Research results on designing exercise programs are reported in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience (2022; doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2022.944193).

See also: How to Design Successful Group Exercise Classes


Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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