The Significance of Health Appraisals

By William Burgos, MS, CSCS, CPT
Professor, Kaplan University School of Health Sciences

Health appraisals are a major factor in the process of detecting health-related issues that may hinder an athlete’s participation in an exercise or sports program. Whether through a professional organization or local fitness club, health appraisals play a vital role in determining the steps needed to identify health concerns or those needed to reach health or exercise-related goals. Throughout this article, the term health appraisals is used interchangeably with medical examination, health screening, routine physical, and pre-participation screening.

Exercise prescription may seem like an easy task, however, formulating the most accurate exercises to help correct deficiencies is a vital responsibility for health and fitness professionals. A health appraisal may help the professional determine the best corrective exercises, such as training to strengthen the core, or simply prompt the athlete to see a physician if the appraisal reveals a condition that requires medical attention before taking part in an exercise program.

Joe Rogowski, head strength and conditioning coach for the Orlando Magic and coordinator for cardiac testing for the National Basketball Association (NBA) Combine states, “as Lance Armstrong has proved, Max V02 (maximal oxygen consumption) can significantly help an athlete be successful.  The rate limiting factor with any athlete is fatigability.  Our muscles fatigue due to a lack of oxygen to the cells.  If we had high mitochondria (Type I) muscle tissue we would be able to buffer against fatigue utilizing our energy system.  With consistent training, even anaerobic training; we increase the number of mitochondria in our muscle.  Your body is better able to utilize the oxygen and resist fatigue and muscle injury.  Therefore, there is a very high correlation between cardiovascular success and maximal oxygen uptake.” Rogowski’s detailed explanation, as a strength and conditioning coach, is an example of the importance in a pre-participation process of cardiovascular testing, essential to designing a particular conditioning program.

As another example, the Pittsburgh Pirates have their athletes undergo a thorough health screening process at the beginning of each season during spring training. This process includes meeting with a physician for a routine physical examination, an EKG, a kinetic-chain assessment, and cholesterol testing with a lipid profile. Marc Oceguera, the Pittsburgh Pirates Rehabilitation Coordinator, points out that “[i]t is very important to perform these appraisals in order to get a better understanding of the total body systems.  During yearly physicals, the players take part in EKG, urine, and blood tests.  This allows us to check for proper functioning of the total body physiological systems and investigate further if need be.  Also, some physiological pathologies can mask themselves in the musculoskeletal system and, in order to perform proper evaluations on the athlete, the therapist or trainer should also consider any and all health issues that may be related.” This comprehensive analysis helps classify participants similar to the risk stratifications outlined by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Not only do these physicals ensure the health and well-being of the athlete, it gives the fitness professional an understanding of any limitations that should be taken into consideration when designing a periodized conditioning program.

Health appraisals have been a significant component in living a healthy lifestyle for decades. Therefore, health and fitness professionals must ensure that a proper health screening is implemented regularly in order to identify any concerns that may limit the success of a well-designed exercise program.


William Burgos, MS, CSCS, CPT

William Burgos has been a professor with Kaplan University’s School of Health Sciences since December 2007.  Mr. Burgos has a Master of Science in Exercise Science from Austin Peay State University where he also obtained his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science.  In addition, he has his certification as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), as well as his certification as a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Mr. Burgos currently works with the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball club as a certified strength and conditioning coach.  In this position, he helps coordinate and maintain strength, flexibility, nutrition, and conditioning programs in order to enhance the quality and longevity of life and to optimize performance.  In addition to working with professional athletes, Mr. Burgos has had the opportunity to be a member of a corporate wellness steering committee where he helps contribute to the corporate wellness program.

Kaplan Higher Education Corporation is a division of Kaplan, Inc., a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company.

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