What is a Special Population?

Introducing the National Strength and Conditioning Association's new Certified Special Population Specialist (CSPS) credential, established in 2012 to address the fitness needs of individuals afflicted by chronic or temporary health conditions.

The NSCA Certified Special Population Specialist (CSPS) credential was established in 2012 to address the fitness needs of individuals afflicted by chronic or temporary health conditions. Anyone interested in pursuing a CSPS must first understand the types of health conditions that require special exercise intervention.

Health conditions are typically categorized according to the body system and physiological implications involved:

Cardiovascular – Myocardial infarction, angina, peripheral vascular disease, congestive heart failure, revascularization, heart valve disorders, and/or conduction disorders. 

Pulmonary­ – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, chronic restrictive pulmonary disorder, pulmonary hypertension, and/or asthma. 

Metabolic – Diabetes (Type I and II), overweight/obesity, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, thyroid disorders, and/or end-stage renal disease. 

Immunological – AIDS/HIV, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, autoimmune disorders (e.g., lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), and/or blood clotting disorders. 

Musculoskeletal – Osteoporosis, limb amputations, osteoarthritis, lower back conditions, frailty, joint disorders, joint replacements, sarcopenia, posture disorders, and cystic fibrosis. 

Neuromuscular – Stroke, brain injury, spinal cord disorders, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, balance disorders, and muscular dystrophy. 

Cancer – Multiple body systems affected. 

Psychological/behavioral – Disordered eating, body image disorders, depression, and chemical dependency. Special populations also include those groups of people with unique traits that are not necessarily afflicted by a chronic or temporary health condition. 

Females that are pregnant, postpartum and menopausal. 

Older adults. 

Children and adolescents. 

For further information on the CSPS credential, including prerequisites and exam preparation materials, visit the NSCA Certification Page.

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