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is devoted to informative articles and news items about exercise physiology.
It is a monthly magazine of news, opinions, exercise physiology professionals,
and events that shape exercise physiology. While it contains views and
opinions of the Editor
who oversees the ASEP Internet Websites, visitors can have a voice as well.
We welcome interested practitioners, researchers, and academicians to e-mail
the Publisher their thoughts and ideas or to respond directly via the ASEP
of Exercise Physiologyonline
to respond to the questions concerning the existence of ASEP and ACSM.
I find it confusing and disturbing that many exercise physiologists view
that ACSM is their professional organization. Of course, this is what officials
of ACSM continue to preach, and more so now that ASEP is functioning and
thriving. However, a simple, factual approach to this issue clearly shows
that ACSM is not an exercise physiology organization, that exercise physiologists
need a professional identity, and therefore that ASEP is needed. I first
started acting on my beliefs that exercise physiology and exercise physiologists
deserved more professional recognition in February, 1997. At this time,
I also had questions concerning the functions of ACSM and a professional
exercise organization, and how these organizations would and should interact.
Afterall, I wanted to make sure that my thoughts, feelings, and decisions
were based on fact - a typical scientific approach.
I did some of my own research, and a lot of reading. I read Berryman’s
text on the history of ACSM (2). To improve my understanding of the history
and development of exercise physiology, I read Massengale’s and Swanson’s
“The History of Exercise and Sport Science”(3), and in particular, Buskirk’s
(1) and Tipton’s (5) chapters on the history of exercise physiology. I
read past mission statements of ACSM, and investigated ACSM membership
statistics, contributions to research and publication by discipline category,
and extensively documented the other organizations that relate to exercise
physiology that exist in the USA and other countries (4). My research and
reading led me to write a somewhat frank report of the history of ACSM
and exercise physiology (4). Since March 1997, I have mailed a copy of
this report, upon request from replies to several of my internet postings
to sportsci.org, to more than fifty exercise physiologists. Now that ASEP
is functional, and gaining increasing support, it is apparent that I once
again need to lay down some basic facts about the co-existence of ASEP
and ACSM. It is best to start with the basic questions that form the foundation
of ASEP, and clarify the functions of ASEP and ACSM.
is a profession?
Boone has detailed answers to this question in sections of the ASEP website.
However, it is clear that a profession is characterized by many features,
some of which include - representation by a professional organization,
adhering to professional standards and ethics, self regulation of education,
training, and professional certification/licensure, etc.
is a professional organization?
organization of a profession is formed and exists to represent the profession.
The organization consists solely of members who are, or intend to be, working
in the profession, or have been allowed special membership status.
exercise physiology need professional status and professional representation?
myself and many other exercise physiologists think exercise physiology
should become a profession. However, it is important that you know why.
Unfortunately, explaining why is not a simple process as there is no clear
distinction, or line to cross, that reveals the need for professionalism.
In addition, many could argue that the process of professionalization is
not a discrete event, but a process that is continually evolving, hopefully
to bigger and better ideals. If you think that exercise physiologists should
have control/influence over who they are, how they are trained, what they
do, and how they are recognized by society, then they need a professional
organization. If you think that exercise physiologists are inadequately
recognized for their talents and knowledge, then they need a professional
organization. If you think that potential students in exercise science
and exercise physiology are persuaded against entering the field because
of inadequate professional status, then they need a professional organization.
If you think that exercise physiologists have the responsibility to develop
their own discipline and profession, then they need a professional organization.
If you think that society will be better educated and informed about exercise
if exercise physiologists are given more responsibility and attain increased
acceptance by society, then they need a professional organization. I could
continue, but I think you get the point.
are the members of ACSM?
on 1996 membership statistics, ACSM is comprised of approximately 25 different
membership groups ranging from students, Ph.D. exercise physiologists,
medical doctors, physical therapists, nutritionists and biochemists. Based
on professional membership groups, ACSM has 33.6% (4,435) of its membership
from clinical and applied exercise physiologists, 29.3% (3,869) from medicine,
and 22.5% (2,970) from “other” miscellaneous professions (4).
ACSM an exercise physiology organization?
on the previous 1996 membership statistics, the answer is a clear NO. ACSM
is no more an exercise physiology organization, than it is a cardiology,
orthopedics, family and general practitioner, applied physiologist, or
applied biochemist organization.
ACSM a professional organization?
again, based on the membership statistics, ACSM is not a professional organization.
It certainly is an organization that consists of professionals, but ACSM
was not developed to represent and focus attention on any one of the disciplines/professions
that serves it. Based on my reading from Berryman (1), the following quote
from the Interdisciplinary Coordination and Advisory Committee of ACSM,
in 1968 read, “Sports medicine draws from the various professions but does
not absorb them. A mutual understanding and respect among these professions,
therefore, is necessary for the promotion of the ideals of sports medicine.
.... The meaning of sports medicine is its responsibility to share, respect,
and synthesize the interprofessional implications of these components.”
ACSM is not a professional organization for exercise physiologists, then
why do so many exercise physiologists view it as their organization?
cannot answer this question without making a few enemies. However, I believe
that an open discussion of the potential answers to this question is very
needed. First of all, the history of ACSM reveals that for the organization
to succeed in the US, it required the support of physical educators and
physicians. Afterall, physical educators made up 8 of the 11 original founders,
and it was the three founding cardiologists of ACSM who realized that exercise
professionals could make a significant contribution to better understanding
how exercise influenced health and well being. In 1954, when ACSM was formed,
exercise physiology was an integral component of physical education, and
the strong physical education influence in the early ACSM directed attention
of exercise physiologists towards supporting ACSM. In hindsight, I am somewhat
frustrated by my exercise physiology predecessors. If as much attention
had been given to the professional needs of exercise physiologists during
the 1960s and 1970s as was given to ACSM, then we would not be needing
to ask and answer all these questions. During the 1970s, exercise physiologists
became even more side-tracked. During the period from 1974 to 1983, there
were 7 presidents who were classic exercise physiologists. It is no surprise
that this period led to the development of the guidelines for exercise
testing manual, ACSM certifications, and ACSM position statements. Despite
the overwhelming contribution to all these functions and products by exercise
physiologists, little credit for this work and knowledge filtered down
to the discipline of exercise physiology. Clearly, the history of ACSM
is indebted to exercise physiologists, and perhaps this is why there is
a lingering feeling of “belonging” to ACSM. However, as I have already
mentioned in previous questions and answers, the exercise physiology contribution
to ACSM does not mean that exercise physiologists are ACSM, or that ACSM
is exercise physiology. Rather, it should be that ACSM is cognizant of
the contributions exercise physiology has made to ACSM, and in return,
they should be totally supportive of the need for a professional exercise
does ACSM remain unsupportive of ASEP despite supporting other professional
allows many other organizations that serve ACSM to have their own professional
organization. Apart from the obvious medical and allied health (e.g., physical
therapy) organizations, other exercise science disciplines also have professional
status - athletic training, biomechanics, sports psychology. The fact that
ACSM is against the professional development of exercise physiology is
a huge anachronism to how they view other membership categories/disciplines.
ASEP is not against ACSM. ASEP and ACSM can function together and follow
each other’s missions independently and without conflict or repetition.
However, it is my belief that ACSM officials are being terribly unprofessional
in their current views on ASEP and their own relations to exercise physiology
and exercise physiologists. I would urge ACSM officials to do their own
reading of the history of ACSM and exercise physiology. They might be enlightened
by what they find! I am sorry to have allowed this posting to become so
long. However, I think you will agree that responses and comments like
the ones I have made are needed, and preferably, in a format that all members
of ACSM, and all exercise physiologists could immediately respond to. We
have politely asked ACSM for such a forum, but they have refused. If ACSM
feels that they should represent execise physiologists, then let us all
(ACSM officials, exercise physiologists, and ASEP officials) sit down and
discuss this topic together in a professional format and atmosphere. The
topic of the future of exercise physiology and exercsie physiologists is
a bigger and more important issue that that of the success of ACSM or ASEP.
Berryman J.W. Out of many one: A history of the American College of Sports
Medicine. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 1995.
Buskirk E.R. Exercise physiology. Part I: Early history in the United States.
p. 367-395, in Masengale J.D. and R.A. Swanson. (editors) The history of
exercise and sport science. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 1997.
Masengale J.D. and R.A. Swanson. (editors) The history of exercise and
sport science. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 1997.
Robergs R.A. ACSM and exercise physiology: Past, present and future. unpublished
Tipton C.M. Exercise physiology. Part II. A contemporary historical perspective.
p. 396-438, in Masengale J.D. and R.A. Swanson. (editors) The history of
exercise and sport science. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois, 1997.
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