The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recently collaborated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to co-sponsor an evidence-based guideline and systematic review of the impact of nutrition and physical-activity interventions. AND is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals and is dedicated to accelerating improvements in global health and well-being through food and nutrition.
The goal of this research was to find out how effective exercise and nutrition practitioners are at positively impacting the health of their clients, specifically when those exercise and nutrition interventions take place simultaneously.
The review looked at 31 randomized and controlled trials in which the participants were healthy adults and those with cardiometabolic risk factors but no diagnosed disease. The outcomes the researchers investigated were as follows:
Fruit and vegetable intake
Percent weight loss
Quality of life
Among the key findings were an increase in physical activity and vegetable intake, a decrease in waist circumference and an increase in the odds of someone with overweight or obesity losing 5% of the body weight. They found little-to-no effect on quality of life or adverse events. Overall, the researchers concluded that nutrition and exercise practitioners play key roles in facilitating positive lifestyle behaviors to reduce cardiometabolic disease risk in adults.
This is great news for health coaches and exercise professionals, as these findings reinforce your work as you empower people to take on positive lifestyle behaviors that lead to healthier lives. As a professional, it’s great to be able to point clients or potential clients to evidence that the behavior changes you’re recommending have scientific evidence to support them.
In addition to the full systematic review, which you can read using the link provided above, you can also review a two-page PDF that was created to help support professionals in tailoring these population guidelines to facilitate health lifestyle behaviors for their clients. The two key elements are personalization and collaboration.
As a health coach or exercise professional, unless you are also a registered dietitian, collaboration is essential if you are going to take a two-pronged approach and offer simultaneous nutrition and physical-activity interventions while staying within your scope of practice. Finding a like-minded nutrition professional who is open to a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach is a vital first step.
Finally, as with all things related to diet and exercise, personalization is required to meet what the researchers called the “individualized and dynamic priorities” of the client. Always keep in mind that every client’s goals, needs and values are going to be different, so modifying your approach to meet clients where they are on their journey is essential.