• /
  • ACE Health
  • /

Improving patient outcomes with science-based expertise

With 117 million people in the United States suffering from more than one chronic health condition, the task of adequately empowering patients and clients to behavior change has become more challenging than ever. People from all walks of life are living in vicious cycles of successes and failures. They are plagued by lifestyles that contribute to weight gain, high cholesterol, smoking and short-lived exercise routines. An important step in breaking those cycles lies in qualified support and behavior change expertise, support rooted in science and delivered by an appropriately credentialed professional. ACE offers a number of solutions that help you or a member of your team successfully improve patient outcomes long term. In addition to training the most highly competent and qualified health coaches and fitness experts in the country, we are dedicated to finding new ways to support public health by connecting those professionals to people.

Our Mission

ACE’s mission is to get people moving.

Our Story

Founded in 1985, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization committed to America's health and wellbeing. Over the past 30 years, we have become an established resource for health and fitness professionals, and the public, providing comprehensive, unbiased research and validating ourselves as the country's trusted authority on health and fitness.

Today, ACE is the largest nonprofit health and fitness certification, education and training organization in the world with more than 90,000 certified professionals who hold more than 77,000 ACE Certifications. With a long heritage in certification, education, training and public outreach, we are among the most respected organizations in the industry and a resource the public has come to trust for health and fitness education.

To learn more about how you can expand your healthcare team, call (888) 825-3636, ext. 734 or email wellness@acefitness.org.


What does a health coach do?

A health coach takes a client-centered approach to helping a person achieve lifestyle behavior changes to improve health. The ACE Certified Health Coach recognizes a client's readiness to change and tailors his or her approach accordingly. ACE offers the only Health Coach Certification accredited by the NCCA, the same body that accredits certifications for pharmacists, nurse practitioners, registered dietitians and numerous other health professionals.

How does health coaching fit in with the patient-centered medical home and Accountable Care Organizations?

Concurrent with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, practice-based and community-based transformations are well under way, including piloting of value-based care models such as patient-centered medical homes, medical neighborhoods, Accountable Care Organizations, and Accountable Care Communities. Each of these entities aims to provide a higher quality of care to optimize patient health outcomes and realize healthcare savings. All of them focus heavily on team-based efforts to engage patients in the prevention and management of disease.

Arguably the most promising modality to do this is through adoption of a coaching model of behavior change. This coincides with a realization that the 'old' methods – advice-giving, health information overload, fear tactics, threats, and disincentives – are ineffective at inspiring and supporting behavior change. Perhaps the most overt acknowledgement of coaching in this transition of medical care delivery is the inclusion of six core standards in order for a practice to achieve certification by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a patient-centered medical home. Integration of coaching principles can help a clinic achieve each of these standards.

How can a health coach or medical exercise professional establish relationships with doctors and health systems?

With healthcare reform and increasing attention paid to prevention as well as the role of physical activity and healthy eating in the treatment of many chronic conditions, opportunities continue to increase for ACE Certified Health Coaches and medical exercise professionals to become part of the wider healthcare team. How this occurs varies considerably based on local care environments and dynamics. Currently, ACE Certified Health Coaches have partnered with a wide range of physicians and specialists to turn the doctor's recommendations they receive inside the clinic into actionable results with hands-on guidance outside the clinic walls. Health coaches have also teamed up with schools and community organizations to start prevention programs. In addition to partnering directly with healthcare providers, they have also created diabetes prevention programs for low-income patients, successful weight-loss programs for independent clients, and they've shown numerous individuals how to fuel their bodies and better manage diabetes and other chronic diseases. Continuing to build on those types of services will position ACE Certified Health Coaches to approach healthcare providers and even insurance companies, who are increasingly seeking out services of a multidisciplinary team of professionals.

What services are currently covered by insurance plans?

Benefits offered can vary considerably by plan, although the Affordable Care Act requires new plans to include certain preventive services without patient co-pays. These preventive services include all Grade A and Grade B recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. In addition, Medicare covers intensive obesity interventions as long as it occurs in the primary care setting. While referral to ACE Certified Health Coaches and medical exercise professionals are not usually covered, some plans offer telephonic health coaching or a reduced rate for coaching or medical exercise services. With a movement toward value-based care, there may be increased opportunity for health coaching and exercise professionals who can provide compelling data to support improved health outcomes as a result of their work.

What scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of health coaching?

A number of scientific studies have shown that effectively implemented health coaching interventions lead to long-term behavioral changes. These changes are critical in the treatment and prevention of numerous diseases, including those typically categorized as "lifestyle diseases," which result from a chronic imbalance of nutrition and physical activity, smoking, and underdeveloped stress management and coping skills. The coaching techniques with the strongest evidence to support them include motivational interviewing, positive psychology and cognitive behavioral coaching.

What scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of exercise in the treatment of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and pulmonary disease?

The scientific evidence is clear that exercise not only prevents the onset of many chronic diseases but it also plays an important role in treatment. The Cochrane Reviews provides a robust analysis and summary of the evidence supporting the importance of exercise in the treatment of an extensive list of diseases.

American Council on Exercise

The burden that chronic disease and the obesity epidemic have placed on our country has caused an unchecked increase in healthcare spending, and has pushed our primary care physicians to the limit.

Under those conditions, moving the needle on the health of our people has become a hefty challenge. Now, more than ever, we need cooperation between healthcare providers and well-qualified health and fitness professionals. We need to extend care beyond the clinical setting by making science-based expertise in behavior change, fitness and nutrition, more accessible in communities.

As qualified members of the healthcare team, ACE Certified Health Coaches and other well-qualified professionals with expertise in behavior change, fitness and nutrition can help support physicians and patients, and they can increase quality of care while decreasing costs. They can deliver care within their scope of practice and work collaboratively in a team-based model.

Now is the time to pool our resources, to respond to the need in our country by giving people the information and guidance they need to live healthier lives long term. Now is the time to utilize the science-based, interdisciplinary coaching, counseling and support for behavior change that professionals who hold the only health coaching certification accredited by the NCCA can deliver.

ACE is training the most competent, knowledgeable health coaches and fitness professionals in the country. Now we need your help to connect those professionals to people who need them most, the same people who rely on you for quality care.

Learn More

ACE 2017 Impact Report Download » Get a more in-depth look at the work ACE has done in the past year, as well as the progress our country has made in responding to the obesity and chronic disease epidemics.