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Study Review: Reporting Quality of Exercise Interventions – Implications & Considerations for PTs

Updated: May 26, 2023



Overview of systematic reviews, published across multiple databases including PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus and PsycINFO until June 2021.


Objective: The study aimed to assess the quality of exercise intervention reporting within health and disease trials.


Methodology: The researchers analyzed reviews that primarily assessed the quality of exercise intervention reporting using the Consensus on Exercise Reporting Template (CERT) or the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR). They measured the quality of these reviews using a modified version of A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews.


Key Findings: From 7804 identified studies, 28 systematic reviews were included. The median percentage of CERT and TIDieR items reported correctly was 24% and 49% respectively. Certain items like 'Brief name', 'Why', and 'Supervision and delivery' were reported well. However, items such as 'Description of each exercise to enable replication' and 'Detailed description of the exercise intervention' were poorly reported. The quality of the systematic reviews varied, ranging from moderate to critically low.


Conclusion: The study concluded that exercise interventions are poorly reported across various health conditions, which may limit its translation from research to practice due to the lack of clarity in prescription and delivery.


Implications for Personal Trainers and Exercise Enthusiasts:

  1. Emphasis on Detailed Reporting: This study emphasizes the necessity for detailed and accurate reporting in exercise prescription. As trainers, we must meticulously document exercise interventions, ensuring instructions, adherence, and progress tracking are clear so we can learn from our own findings.

  2. Critical Evaluation of Research: The findings remind us of the need for a critical and discerning eye when evaluating research. Not all studies are of equal quality, and we need to consider the source and the quality of the information before applying it to our practice.

  3. Advocacy for More Research: The study indirectly points to the underfunding of exercise-related research. As fitness professionals, we can advocate for more funding in this area to facilitate high-quality studies and clearer exercise guidelines.

  4. Exercise Remains Beneficial: It's essential to note that these findings do not suggest people should refrain from exercising due to the lack of scientific evidence. Exercise has well-established benefits and remains a cornerstone of health and well-being. However, these findings emphasize the need for more precise guidelines and reporting to optimize these benefits.

  5. Need for Exercise Rationale: Interestingly, none of the studies included a rationale for choosing a particular exercise type. This is a critical observation for personal trainers. When designing exercise programs, it's important not only to select appropriate exercises but also to provide a clear rationale for these choices to clients. This helps in enhancing client understanding, adherence, and engagement.

In conclusion, as personal trainers, we have a crucial role in bridging the gap between research and practice. Accurate, detailed, and transparent reporting in our exercise prescriptions, along with clear rationales for our choices, can significantly enhance this effort.

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