What is an exercise test?
The main purpose of exercise testing is to measure your body’s ability to produce energy or in other words your exercise capacity.
The test might include walking on a treadmill, cycling or stepping up and down on a step. It is used to assess what your ability is to perform the activity and to assess your endurance in doing the activity. From the testing you will get a maximum heart rate and a reading called a MET level. MET stands for metabolic equivalent. When you are resting sitting in a chair you use 1 MET. For weeding the garden you will use 2.5 METs. The test tells you what your Maximum MET capacity is at that time and you can be advised on what activities you have have sufficient exercise capacity.
Why do I need an exercise test?
While exercise testing takes a very short time it gives quite a lot of information. If you are very breathless the test will give a level where the breathlessness starts and assesses your hearts and oxygen capacity level response to it. It is also used to ensure the settings on the pacemaker are fully optimized for you. From the test an exercise regime can be prescribed specific to you.
I have a stress test next week and I am terrified?
The naming of the test is not ideal as it automatically starts to make you feel under stress. These tests are closely supervised and the staff looking after you are highly skilled. The purpose of the test is not to bring you to the point where you will collapse. It is to look at your body’s response to exercise. It will give the answer to some of the questions you may already have. The involves you walking on a treadmill. You will be have sticky pads on your skin (electrodes) which are attached to a monitor. This enables the electrical activity of the heart to be monitored. Your blood pressure will also be monitored. Every 3 minutes the speed and the slope on the treadmill will be increased until you reach your maximum capacity.
At Heart 2 Heart we complete functional exercise testing with you before you commence our exercise classes. This works on the same principles and allows us to prescribe the correct level of exercise for you. It is called a submaximal test as you will not be tested to your maximum capacity as with the stress. It is not necessary to go to your maximum capacity when we are using the test for prescription of exercise and not a diagnosis.
Karen Cradock, Specialist Cardiac Physiotherapist, Heart 2 Heart Cardiac Physiotherapy, www.h2hcardiacphysio.com, 0877667465