American College of Sports Medicine

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American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

Founded in 1954, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) promotes and integrates scientific research, education, and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health, and quality of life. The ACSM national headquarters moved to Indianapolis in 1984, joining organizations such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Federation of State High School Associations, and national sport-specific governing bodies.

Members of ACSM work in a wide range of medical specialties, allied health professions, and scientific disciplines, and are committed to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sports-related injuries and the advancement of the science of exercise.


The current (2013-2014) ACSM elected offices are held by:

  • President: William Dexter, M.D., FACSM, Maine Medical Center
  • President-elect: Carol Ewing Garber, Ph.D., FACSM, Columbia University
  • Immediate Past President: Janet Walberg Rankin, Ph.D., FACSM, Virginia Tech
  • Second Past President: Barbara Ainsworth, Ph.D., MPH, FACSM, Arizona State University

For a complete listing of past ACSM leadership, please visit the Leadership section of the ACSM website.

ACSM History[edit]

The founding meeting of the "Federation of Sports Medicine" took place in New York City at the Hotel Statler on April 22, 1954, as part of the afternoon program of the American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (AAHPER). The following year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) was officially incorporated, and 11 individuals were designated as founders. This group was composed of seven men and one woman with careers in physical education, and three physicians. The physical educators were Clifford Brownell, Ph.D. Ernst Jok, M.D., Peter Karpovich, M.D., Leonard Larson, Ph.D. Grover Mueller, M.S., Neils Neilson, Ph.D, Josephine Rathbone, Ph.D. and Arthur Steinhaus, Ph.D. Although they had training in physical education or were employed in departments of physical education, Jokl, Larson, Karpovich, and Steinhaus were primarily involved in research dealing with the physiology of exercise. The physicians were Louis Bishop, M.D., Albert Hyman, M.D., and Joseph Wolffe, M.D. All three were practicing cardiologists.

To read more, please visit the History section of the ACSM website.


ACSM members represent more than 70 disciplines in sports medicine and exercise science. For more than 50 years, ACSM has been leading the way in scientific and public health aspects of physical activity, exercise science, and sports medicine. Through its unified membership, ACSM brings together experts in multiple disciplines, including education, medicine, science, research, and health and fitness, to deliver real-world programs that make a difference in people’s lives. ACSM membership offers exclusive access to cutting-edge research and journals, and offers members a valuable resource network of professionals who promote lifelong health and fitness, sports performance, and preventing illness and injury across multiple disciplines.

ACSM membership is offered in six categories:

  • Clinicians
  • Academicians
  • Scientists
  • Health & Fitness Professionals
  • Students
  • International

Regional Chapters[edit]

ACSM has 12 Regional Chapters throughout the United States that ensure easy access to regional educational meetings. ACSM Regional Chapters provide unmatched opportunities to network with exercise science and sports medicine professionals and students close to home. Professionals & students joining an ACSM Regional Chapter also receive:

  • Access to awards & scholarships
  • Career guidance
  • Discounted rates to chapter educational programs
  • Opportunities to present original research
  • Member Newsletters
  • Leadership & Professional Growth
  • Ability to earn CECs & CMEs

ACSM's 12 Regional Chapters are:

  • Alaska ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Central States ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Greater New York ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Mid-Atlantic ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Midwest ACSM Regional Chapter
  • New England ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Northland ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Northwest ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Rocky Mountain ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Southeast ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Southwest ACSM Regional Chapter
  • Texas ACSM Regional Chapter

ACSM Journals, Books, and Publications[edit]

The American College of Sports Medicine has a scientifically-based, well-respected publishing program made up of books and journals dating back to 1975. The four journals, several books and various multimedia resources serve ACSM’s diverse audiences. ACSM is well known for credible, science-based content in all the books and journals, including the standard reference ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription.


ACSM’s four leading scholarly journals provide access to cutting-edge research, relevant clinical reports and recent health-and-fitness information. Check out the ACSM Journals on Facebook and visit the Twitter pages for each journal:

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, ACSM's flagship monthly journal, is the leading multidisciplinary original research journal for members. Each issue features original investigations, clinical studies and comprehensive reviews on current topics in sports medicine and exercise science. MSSE is a leading journal in the field with an impact factor of 4.475 as reported by the Thomson Reuters IF for 2012 placing it #4 in the Sports Sciences category.

  • Featured topics include:
  • Sports medicine practice
  • Physiology
  • Epidemiology
  • Biodynamics
  • Physical fitness and performance

Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, a quarterly review publication for members, provides premier reviews of the most contemporary scientific, medical and research-based topics in sports medicine and exercise science. The journal provides the most relevant, topical information for practical and research applications. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews consists of articles for readers with a broad interest in scientific issues related to exercise, movement, physical activity and/or sport. ESSR has an impact factor of 5.283 as reported by the Thomson Reuters IF for 2012 placing it #2 in the Sports Sciences category.

Current Sports Medicine Reports, a bimonthly journal for physician members, responds to unique information needs by addressing two sports medicine topics in-depth each issue. This is one of the most thorough reviews of current sports medicine literature you’ll find out there. Categories include:

  • Head, Neck, and Spine
  • General Medical Conditions
  • Chest and Abdominal Conditions
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Sideline and Event Management
  • Training, Prevention, and Rehabilitation
  • Nutrition & Ergogenic aids
  • Exercise is Medicine
  • Extremity and Joint Conditions
  • Sport-Specific Illness and Injury
  • Competitive Sports
  • Special Populations

Health Fitness Journal® , a bimonthly journal for members of ACSM's Alliance of Health and Fitness Professionals, responds to the practical information needs of fitness instructors, personal trainers, exercise leaders, program directors and other front-line health and fitness professionals. Each issue includes:

  • Latest exercise science and nutrition research.
  • Current topics of interest for health, medical, wellness, and fitness industries.
  • CEC opportunities.
  • Information on ACSM certification workshops and ACSM Approved Providers.


ACSM publishes several books and multimedia resources to serve a variety of readers across the spectrum of students and teachers, researchers, M.D.’s and clinicians, public health professionals and those in the health and fitness industry. ACSM is best known for ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, first published in 1975. Books and multimedia may be purchased directly from the publisher or from the ACSM Store.

Some of ACSM’s most popular titles include:

  • ACSM’s Behavioral Aspects of Physical Activity and Exercise
  • ACSM’s Exercise Management for Persons with Chronic Diseases and Disabilities
  • ACSM's Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines
  • ACSM’s Introduction to Exercise Science
  • ACSM’s Resources for the Health/Fitness Specialist
  • ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer


ACSM holds two major conferences each year, dedicated to continuing education for professionals: the Annual Meeting and the Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition. The 2013 Annual Meeting was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. Other meetings include roundtable specialty conferences, Team Physician courses, and Regional Chapter meetings.

Future Meetings:

ACSM Annual Meeting

  • May 28–31, 2014 - Orlando, Florida
  • May 27–30, 2015 - San Diego, California
  • June 1–4, 2016 - Boston, Massachusetts

ACSM Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition

  • April 1–4, 2014 - Atlanta, Georgia
  • March 31 - April 3, 2015 - Phoenix, Arizona
  • March 28 - April 1, 2016 - Orlando, Florida

Advanced Team Physician Course

  • December 5–8, 2013 - Las Vegas, Nevada


The American College of Sports Medicine was the first organization to certify health fitness professionals. With more than 25,000 health fitness professionals in 44 countries, we are the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world.

ACSM establishes the exercise guidelines that all other certifications use for training and certification, and therefore, continues to set the standards in the fitness industry. We are dedicated to providing the latest in clinical research and cases, ensuring the continued education of our practitioners.

ACSM offers eight different certifications for fitness and clinical exercise professionals:


The American College of Sports Medicine Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization affiliated with and developed to support the American College of Sports Medicine, Inc. The ACSM Foundation acquires, manages, and grows the resources necessary for ACSM to fulfill its mission and vision, with special emphasis on supporting research that provides scientific information vital to human health and performance.

Awards & Scholarships: Each year the ACSM Foundation awards approximately $100,000 in research awards and scholarships. To sustain and build these funds, the Foundation conducts ongoing fundraising efforts. By supporting the ACSM Foundation, you can honor a pioneer or professional in the field, sustain research or help a researcher start his/her line of scientific inquiry, or endow a student research effort to build the future of the profession.


In addition to providing research grants and scholarships from the endowments listed above, the ACSM Foundation helps provide the additional support for the College in areas such as education, minority scholarships, Foundation Research Grants, and much more.

Board of Directors: Our Foundation Board of Directors plays a central role in this important work and vital mission. Current ACSM Foundation President, Jim Pivarnik, Ph.D., FACSM serves as Professor of Epidemiology and Kinesiology at Michigan State University. Officers of the ACSM Foundation board also include Dave Hillery, Treasurer and James R. Whitehead, Secretary & CEO/EVP of ACSM, Inc. Corporate representatives on the ACSM Foundation board include: Gatorade Sports Science Institute, Dairy Research Institute, eSigma Solutions, Anytime Fitness, LLC, and TogoRun. Partner representatives include Henry S. Miller, Jr., M.D., FACSM from Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University and Regional Chapters Trustee, Lynn Darby, Ph.D., FACSM.

Policy Priorities[edit]

ACSM supports evidence-based public policy that encourages healthy lifestyles and the safe enjoyment of sports and other physical activities. In addition, ACSM members serve as expert resources for federal, state and local policy makers, ensuring that decisions are founded on the latest research.

ACSM advocates on several different issues on the federal, state and local level. It is through this advocacy that ACSM is able to affect positive change that results in healthy lifestyles. Whether it’s physical activity guidelines legislation on the federal level or concussion legislation on the state level, ACSM plays an active role in policy discussions. To learn more about ACSM’s policy activities, please visit the online ACSM Policy Center.

Exercise is Medicine[edit]

Exercise is Medicine® is the global health initiative focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include exercise when designing treatment plans for patients. Exercise is Medicine is committed to the belief that exercise and physical activity are integral to the prevention and treatment of chronic disease and should be regularly assessed as part of medical care. Exercise is Medicine has been established on six continents and more than 38 countries.

Exercise is Medicine® is coordinated by the American College of Sports Medicine, the leading health, sports medicine and exercise science organization worldwide. ACSM members include top researchers, clinicians, and health and fitness professionals in the field of physical activity and health. Former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., MBA, serves as Honorary Chair of Exercise is Medicine. The Exercise is Medicine Advisory Board includes members from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kaiser Permanente, and other leaders in health and health care.

Exercise is Medicine Advisory Committees:

  • EIM Advisory Board
  • EIM Media
  • On Campus
  • Credential
  • Community Health
  • Education
  • International
  • Pediatrics
  • Practice
  • Science
  • Underserved Population
  • Older Adults

American Fitness Index[edit]

The ACSM American Fitness Index Program (AFI) is an initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine that aims to quantitatively measure the overall health and fitness level of American metropolitan areas.[1] The measure is a composite of indicators for personal health, availability of health care providers, and community resources for physical activity. The first study, completed in May 2008, ranked the 15 most populous metropolitan areas in the nation, along with Greater Indianapolis (where the ACSM is based). Today, the 50 most populous metropolitan areas are ranked. As of 2010, Washington D.C. holds the top ranking, a position it also held in 2009. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is in last place. Besides a simple ranking, the ACSM provides individual reports for ranked metro areas, detailing how each score was assigned. This is in keeping with the ACSM's stated goal of arming local policy-makers with the information necessary to improve the health, fitness and quality of life of community residents by promoting healthier lifestyles and physical activity. Scores are assigned by comparing various indicators to the national average and rewarding or penalizing the metro area as appropriate. These indicators are classified into two broad categories: Personal Health, which measures the health habits of metro area residents, including their fitness, diet, chronic health problems, and access to health care, and Community and Environment, which includes scores to measure the availability and convenience of alternative transportation, ease of access to community health facilities like pools, tennis courts, and baseball diamonds, and the percentage of the metro area designated as parkland.

These indicators are combined with population statistics that are known or believed to be related to overall community health, such as employment levels, rates of violent crime, median household income, average level of education, and population demographics.

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