ACSM Updates Recommendations to Prevent Cardiovascular Events at Fitness Facilities


The paper is an update to previous guidelines released by ACSM and the American Heart Association in 1998.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published a new expert consensus statement that provides guidance on training staff and establishing emergency plans to prevent cardiovascular events at fitness facilities, community and hotel fitness facilities, and sporting event venues, according to a press release.

The paper is an update to previous guidelines released by ACSM and the American Heart Association in 1998.

“Vigorous exercise is a double-edged sword in that it protects against but, in rare instances, can trigger acute cardiac events,” said Barry A. Franklin, PhD, FACSM, co-author and ACSM past president, in a press release. “This ACSM special communication provides health-fitness facility professionals with the latest information on the modulators of exercise risk, and how to reduce them, as well as key elements of a well-organized emergency response system."

The objective of the new statement is to further reduce the rare cardiovascular complications of exercise while removing unnecessary barriers to widespread participation in an active lifestyle, according to the press release. It seeks to minimize screening and other factors that may impede the use or availability of physical fitness facilities compared with the 1998 statement.

This newer approach is based on:

  • the increasingly recognized health benefits of even low levels of physical activity (PA).
  • cardiovascular events incited by physical activity among healthy adults and those with established cardiovascular disease.
  • some pre-exercise screening strategies that present a barrier to PA due to requiring additional medical testing for clearance.
  • immediate assistance provided by nonmedical personnel to help greatly reduce the morbidity and mortality of acute cardiac events (dialing 911, initiating bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation, etc).

Further, the paper addresses the cardiovascular risks of physical activity, cardiovascular screening of prospective fitness facility members/users, and general recommendations for fitness-related facilities, according to the press release. This includes emergency response, staffing and training, automated external defibrillators, signage, member training, and mass participation sporting events.

“Publishing this updated statement aligns with ACSM’s mission to advance and integrate scientific research to improve education and the practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine,” said Lynette Craft, PhD, ACSM chief science officer and fellow, in a press release.


At the Heart of the Matter: ACSM Updates Recommendations to Prevent Cardiovascular Events at Fitness Facilities. ACSM. Published June 26, 2020. Accessed June 26, 2020.

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