Updated Exercise Guidelines by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

ACSM recently updated it’s 1998 version of Exercise Guidelines. This post is trying to give you an overview of ACSM’s current position regarding exercise quantity and quality.

 1. Health Benefits of Cardiorespiratory-, Strength and Resistance-, Flexibility- and Neuromotor Training

  • reducing the risk of developing cardio-vascular disease
  • improving insulin sensitivity
  • improving cholesterol values, elevating HDL-
  • reducing blood pressure values in hypertensive individuals
  • enhancing mental outlook – improving mood disorders
  • improving body-composition/weight-management
  • preventing, improving or reversing osteoporosis/osteopinea
  • preventing or improving osteoarthritis
  • reducing risk of falling
  • reducing risk for diabetes type 2 and metabolic syndrome
  • reducing risk of stroke as well as breast and colon cancer

Overall it can be said that regular exercising not only decreases a persons risk of developing diseases that can significantly reduce his/her quality of life, but that it leads to increased levels of well-being.


2. Cardiorespiratory Training Guidelines (for apparently healthy adults)

  • The ACSM recommends to train 3-5 days per week at moderate (Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale: 12-13) to vigorous (RPE: 14-17) intensity levels.  This can be done on 5 days/week at moderate levels, 3 days at vigorous intensity, or 3-5 days at a combination of both levels. Moderate exercise levels should be performed for 30-60 minutes, vigorous exercise intensity should be performed for 20-60 minutes. These exercise sessions can be continuous or be broken up into multiple sessions during the same day. The cardiorespiratory training should be done purposeful and rhythmic involving all major muscle groups of the body. The training program should be gradually progressing in intensity, duration of each session, and frequency until set goals are achieved.

3. Strength Training Guidelines (for apparently healthy adults)

  • The ACSM recommends to strengthen all major muscle groups 2-3 days per week with 48 hour rest intervals. The prescribed intensity depends on age, experience, and goals. In order to increase strength very light to light loads are recommended for novice older adult and novice sedentary adult exercisers. (40-50% of one Repetition Maximum)  moderate to hard loads (60-70% of 1-RM) are suggested for novice or intermediate adult exercisers and hard to very hard loads (80-100%of 1-RM) are reserved for experienced weight lifters. If trying to improve strength endurance light to moderate loads are recommended. For power training extremely light to light loads are suggested for older adults. Strength training is prescribed in repetitions, sets and rest. 10-15 repetitions and single sets to increase strength in novice and older adult exercisers. 8-12 repetitions and 2-4 sets to increase strength and power in most adults. 15-20 repetitions and 2 or more sets to improve muscular endurance. Each set should be followed by 2-3 minutes of rest.

4. Flexibility/Stretching Exercise Guidelines

  • ACSM recommends to stretch all major muscle groups at least 2-3 days per week, with greater improvements being achieved through daily stretches. The stretch should be done in a static fashion to the point of light discomfort or a feeling of tightness in the muscle being stretched. Stretches should be held statically for 30-60 seconds for older adults and 10-30 seconds for most adults. Repeat each stretch 2-4 times per muscle for a total of 60 seconds per target muscle group.

5. Neuromotor Exercise Guidelines

  • Neuromotor exercises are geared to improve balance, coordination, agility and gait and are therefore extremely beneficial especially for the older adult to prevent falls and maintain physical independence. ACSM recommends the inclusion of such types of exercises in the work-out routines on at least 2-3 days per week for 20-30 minutes. There are no known recommendations yet on intensity and volume. Keep in mind that more complex and difficult balance- and coordination exercises trigger greater heart rate and blood pressure responses.

 6. Comments

  • This newly released ACSM statement is the largest evidence based guide (over 400 cited references of publications and studies) to health and fitness professionals in creating individualized exercise and training prescriptions for healthy adults of all ages. It highlights the importance of qualified leadership through well educated fitness professionals and it’s positive impact on the exercise experience for all adults, especially the novice adult exerciser. If you have difficulties getting started on your journey to get healthier and improve the quality of your life please consider contacting a Personal Fitness Trainer to help you get on the right track.

À Santé

Hartmut Broring, M.S. Physio Therapy
Founder and President
Back In Form, Inc.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*