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Pre screening for exercise

If any of the following apply to you, see your doctor for a check up before beginning exercise. :

Age 40+, sedentary, overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes, previous heart attack, current heart condition, chest pain at any time (exercising or not exercising), dizziness, loss of balance.

If you are sedentary and engage in vigorous physical activity, you may cause a heart attack. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and coronary artery disease are often referred to as the "silent killers" because often the first sign of disease is a heart attack. Plaques building in your arteries typically have no symptoms you can feel. If you have these plaques and you engage in vigorous physical activity you could dislodge some of this plaque and cause an arterial blockage. It's a real threat that should not be taken lightly.

Complete the PAR Q test prior to beginning an exercise program click here for a copy of the PAR Q test.

Medical tests for exercise pre screening

Exercise stress test

Your physician may order a standard stress test to investigate heart function before giving permission to exercise. Standard stress tests are done on a treadmill or stationary bike. Small electrodes are attached to your body. These electrodes measure electrical signals in your heart and can be used to diagnose certain heart conditions. The tests start at an easy pace and gets harder every 3 minutes (or other increment) until you reach between 85% and 90% of your maximum heart rate, or whenever you decide you don't want to continue for whatever reason. The tester may also stop the test at any time. The tests are typically 5 to 12 minutes in duration.

Pharmacological stress test

If you are not a candidate for an exercise stress test due to intolerance to exercise for any reason or other medical reasons, your physician may order a test where a drug is injected that causes similar stresses on your heart that occur during exercise. Special imaging tools are used to look at your hearts response to the drug. You remain motionless during the test, although there is a test that combines mild exercise and drugs.

Fitness assessments

Fitness assessments have a different purpose than stress tests. Stress tests are a medical procedure. Stress test results help a physician rule out potential heart problems before giving the go ahead for exercise.

Fitness assessments can be done with no specific medical purpose. Coaches and trainers who are properly trained can administer fitness assessments but cannot administer stress tests. A fitness test is not a replacement for a stress test.

Fitness assessments can be done in exercise labs with special machines to measure oxygen consumption (VO2 Max), blood lactate, and heart rate measurements to help a coach/ trainer prescribe the correct exercise intensity for an individual, but the coach/ trainer is not qualified to make any medical interpretations from the assessment. Miniature portable lactate analyzers and heart rate monitors can be used to bring lab accuracy to any location indoors and outdoors.

There are two fitness assessment models

Direct individual testing

Population average testing

Direct individual tests are far superior to population average based assessments. Direct testing collects specific information from the individual and a personal exercise prescription can made from the results. Population average tests compare your results to average chart references and no specific exercise prescription can be made from test results, although you can compare your results to others in your demographic group.

Any "fitness assessment" that specifically compares you to a group average and does not determine your current fitness level cannot be used to prescribe specific exercise intensities or duration's with any reliable accuracy as the results assume you are the same as the population average your results are closest to. These are cookie cutter routines, they are not individualized.

Rhino Fitness does individualized assessments using heart rate and blood lactate.

Look for trainers and coaches who are experienced in lactate testing and heart rate profiling in fitness assessments, avoid cookie cutter population average testing.

2007 Cris LaBossiere Rhino Fitness www.rhinofitness.ca



Copyright 2007 Rhino Fitness. All rights reserved.
For more information contact: clabossiere@rhinofitness.ca