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Preventing Heart Disease and Working with Those at Risk

I wanted to spend some more time this month promoting American Heart Month and focusing on the impact we can make as fitness professionals, in the prevention of heart disease.

In November 2013, the American Heart Association released knew guidelines for the prevention of heart disease, which focuses on many of the conditions that are covered in W.I.T.S. Exercise Program Design for Special Populations. Specifically, the guidelines address Cholesterol, Lifestyle, Obesity, and Risk Assessment. It is so clear that we can help reduce the prevalence of heart disease—everything that we do as fitness professionals can make an impact.

I’d encourage everyone to read the complete guidelines at and share this information with your clients—

If we just focus on one factor—lifestyle— the guidelines are pretty clear and direct:

  • Get 40 minutes of exercise 3 – 4 days a week
  • Eat fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce sodium

Pretty simple stuff! I think that most people fear that they will have to make HUGE changes and become overwhelmed. I strongly believe that we have a responsibility as fitness professionals to help educate those around us (clients, family, peers, co-workers) that it’s the little things that they can do to make BIG changes.

How do you work “education” into your training sessions? Do you use different coaching strategies? What do you find works best for helping people make positive change in their lives?


If you want to learn more about heart disease prevention and the AHA guidelines, visit and consider enrolling in W.I.T.S. Exercise Program Design for Special Populations course. We are running great 2 for 1 discounts this month on many of our continuing education classes! Take an online course at a time and place that is convenient for you—receive substantial discounts on approved CEC courses!



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7 thoughts on “Preventing Heart Disease and Working with Those at Risk

  1. Wow this is very helpful simple information. What a great way to start a conversation with a prospect or a new client. At that point a friendly family day to bring in the siblings and spouse could really open some new doors. New doors means new business and new referrals. Starting simple and working a game plan or system is the best way to help change lives and to grow your business.


  2. Officially, I am a part-time trainer. But in reality, I am always talking about health and wellness to clients, co-workers, even complete strangers. I think there is a misconception that trainers are some sort of magical cure-all and a little bit of getting yelled at will take care of years of bad lifestyle choices – smoking, excessive eating, drinking, a sedentary life, and an overall poor diet.

    As trainers, we need to constantly remind our clients that changing the way that we think about food is just as, if not more, important than exercise. I think that easing people into change gradually and offering positive feedback on even the smallest of accomplishments encourages them to move forward, especially when improved lifestyle results become clear.

    Also, when we talk in general terms about eating well and how food should be seen as fuel for out body, we add to our credibility as trainers.

    Thanks for sharing this information on such an important topic. After all, the heart is the most important muscle we have.

    1. Thank you, Bill! This is great input! I really appreciate your insight and the approach you take with your clients!

  3. In my family there is a history of heart disease so this is some very helpful information. I agree that it takes one step at a time to get into a healthier lifestyle and soon you take another and then another. It starts to feel good and to know how simple it is, that’s the amazing part. I know that in my household, we have started cooking our own foods with fresh vegetables, especially peppers and foods that are really colorful, also using a lot of low sodium and low fat ingredients. The presentation of colors is beautiful so it makes it more tempting to eat anyway. That’s our first start to getting into a healthier lifestyle and next getting ourselves out of the house and into the gym!

    1. Thanks for the post, Bonnie! And congratulations for taking steps to make your own household healthier! It’s amazing how much the little modifications make big changes!! Keep up the good work!! 🙂

  4. Interesting discussion!

  5. Everything we do makes an impact. No matter how small the change. It is amazing how bad habits are hard to break, but reteaching oneself one step at a time is the way to go…I’ve found the support of my teenagers in eating healthier and getting plenty of rest has helped each of us physically and mentally.

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