The fitness industry is ever-changing. As new research and clinical experience broaden our knowledge, changes in programming, guidelines, and standards are required. ACE's commitment to evidence-based practice is foundational, as reflected in our ongoing research, as well as our textbooks, study programs, and continuing education. While we make every possible effort to ensure that each product is complete and in alignment with industry standards at the time of publication, there are some key industry guidelines of which you should be aware and which are sometimes updated between editions of ACE textbooks.

As you study for an ACE Certification Exam and as you practice throughout your career as an exercise professional or health coach, it is essential that you remain up to date with the following industry guidelines and standards. Note that not all of these are cited in every ACE textbook or study program.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

This document provides a complete set of guidelines and examples of activities to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness, bone strength, balance, and flexibility in children, adults, older adults, women during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and adults with chronic disease.

World Health Organization 2020 Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour

Like the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, this document provides evidence-based recommendations on the amount of physical activity required to improve health and fitness.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines, along with MyPlate, provide a foundation upon which health coaches and exercise professionals can help clients optimize their nutrition and overall health. Published approximately every five years, the Dietary Guidelines can be used within the scope of practice for all ACE Certified Professionals.

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

ACSM publishes evidence-based recommendations that are widely cited, particularly ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Visit to check out the latest ACSM texts. The following lists the latest edition of two of their most frequently cited texts.

  • American College of Sports Medicine (2022). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (11th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
  • American College of Sports Medicine (2019). ACSM's Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines (5th ed.). Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

It is essential that any health coach or exercise professional working with women who are pregnant or in the postpartum period read the latest ACOG guidelines, particularly the document listed below. ACOG frequently publishes "Committee Opinions" that should inform the work of anyone serving this population.

Blood Pressure Guidelines

These guidelines, published in 2017 by the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and a number of other organizations, reflect the latest understanding of hypertension and how to categorize blood pressure in adults.

  • Whelton, P.K. et al. (2017). 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/ PCNA guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults: Executive Summary: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 71, 19, 2199-2269.

Cholesterol and Metabolic Syndrome Guidelines

Summaries of these two important sets of guidelines can be found at the links provided below. These documents are often cited in the context of classification of cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

  • The Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (2001). Executive Summary of the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). Journal of the American Medical Association, 285, 19, 2486. (Summary can be found here:
  • Grundy, S.M. et al. (2018). Cholesterol clinical practice guidelines: Executive summary. Circulation, 139, e1046-e1081.

Diabetes Guidelines

This position statement presents essential content on the importance of physical activity and exercise in the prevention and management of diabetes.

Sports Nutrition

This is an important resource for exercise professionals and health coaches who work with athletes or individuals with performance-related goals.

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and American College of Sports Medicine (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 16, 3, 501-528.