The Trainer as an Educator

Personal trainers not only guide clients through exercise movements, they play a major role in educating them about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and improving the overall quality of their lives.

Many people who seek out the services of a personal trainer do so with a specific goal in mind. Quite often, that initial goal is weight loss and weight management. It’s important from the outset that the client understand that weight loss from fat can be offset, in part or in whole, by lean tissue mass and that this is desirable. The building of lean mass, even in relatively small amounts, as a way to improve metabolic efficiency can be quite a daunting concept for many, particularly those who “don’t want to get big.”

Obesity is a significant health factor that greatly affects a client’s quality of life. It is a leading risk factor for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and depression. By educating yourself on the causes and effects of obesity, you can provide a more comprehensive service and garner more client loyalty.

The Centers for Disease Control defines obesity as having a body mass index of 30 or higher. Some figures are that one out of three adults in the U.S. is considered overweight or obese. According to some estimates, the overall trend in the United States is for the average adult to gain between a half a pound and a pound each year.

The Life-Threatening Effects of Obesity

Currently the American Heart Association recognizes obesity as a major risk for heart disease – the leading cause of death for adults in America. Obesity contributes to a significant number of other physical and mental health problems, as well.

According to the CDC, the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, obesity contributes to the following health problems:

•   Cancer of the breast, uterus, prostate and colon

•   DepressionWalking to Work

•   Diabetes

•   Gallbladder disease

•   Heart Disease

•   Hypertension

•   Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides

•   Incontinence    

•   Osteoarthritis

•   Pregnancy and other gynecological complications

•   Sleep apnea and other respiratory problems

•   Stroke

It’s not exaggeration to say that reducing weight from adipose tissue and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is just about quality of life but is a matter of life and death.

Using Physical Activity to Treat and Prevent Obesity

Treating obesity means changing can and should involve a change in lifestyle. This concept alone can be difficult for some clients to grasp initially. This is a slow and challenging process, but the goal is realistically attainable when the provided objectives are clear. Current recommendations suggest reducing body weight by 5 to 10 percent over a six month period, which on average amounts to a loss of about 1 to 2 pounds per week.

A growing body of research points to physical inactivity as one of the major causes of obesity. Since most people suffering from obesity lead sedentary lifestyles, it’s important to educate on the importance of staying active every day, not just on workout days. Fortunately, physical activity is one thing that most people have the ability to change, even if they don’t think so at first.

Everyday physical activity could take the form of walking for 10 to 15 minutes, walking to the store rather than driving, parking further from the entrance to store when the person does drive (and likely still making it inside faster than if he or she had been driving in circles searching for a closer parking space!). The main goal is to engender a view of physical activity as something that need not be confined to the club or gym. Eventually, clients should set a minimum goal of at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity outside of the gym for most days of the week.

Although you may not be a registered dietician, as a trainer it is still important to discuss the importance of diet and nutrition with clients. They need to understand that nutrition and exercise combine to effectively achieve maximum weight loss and reduce their risk for obesity and other major health risks.

References:

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/defining.html
  2. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/WeightManagement/Obesity/Obesity-Information_UCM_307908_Article.jsp

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NFPT Staff Writers contribute in various ways to the NFPT blog