screening for exercise risk factors

Did you ever take a wellness test and then receive a portfolio of health numbers that you needed to sit down and decipher? Did you ever wonder how these numbers relate to exercise? Join the club.

As in all things, sometimes it’s nice to know ahead of time what’s on the test, and practice for it. Knowing the benchmarks in advance seems proactive to me – what do they say…”an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”

As a personal trainer, it’s my responsibility to assess cardiovascular risk in a client. One part of the assessment includes the use of the following table. Without prior heart health issues or symptoms, the table can guide the PT as they classify their client into low, moderate or high risk categories for exercise. (Keep in mind, the best advice would be to obtain medical clearance before starting any exercise program and/or take the PAR-Q test – found in this prior post.)

To use the table, take a look at each risk factor category. Place a check by the ones that apply. Before you start you might want to dig out your most current wellness numbers.


 Answer key                              If you check –
2 or less risk factors – you are in the low risk zone. No need for medical clearance for moderate or vigorous exercise.
2 or more risk factors – you are in the moderate risk zone. It’s probably OK for you to participate in moderate exercise, but you should have medical clearance for vigorous exercise.
2 or more risk factors with known history of heart, kidney, high blood pressure, or metabolic disease and you are in the high risk zone.  Medical clearance for moderate and vigorous exercise is definitely recommended.

As per the American College of Sports Medicine “the risk factors in the following table must not be viewed as an all-inclusive list…” (ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer – 4th edition, 2014, page 286 )  Always check with a doctor if uncertain about any symptoms or other medical conditions.

Using the numbers in the table as a guide throughout life can be helpful. A person can make smarter health goals and decisions before a crisis occurs. February is heart health month. What better time to take stock of your heart – for the health of it!

American Heart Month 2014 | the month of february is american heart month so iherb would like to ...
 Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors Table
Risk Factors Defining Criteria
Age Men – 45yrs or older.                               Women – 55 yrs or older.
Family History Heart attack, heart surgery,                                                                                                               – before 55yr in father or    -before 65 yr in mother.
Cigarette Smoking Current cigarette smoker                                                                                                                 OR    quit within the previous 6 mo.
Sedentary Lifestyle No participation in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity, physical activity (40%- <60% heart rate intensity) on at least 3 days of the week for at least 3 months.
Obesity Body Mass Index (BMI)  greater than or equal to 30                                                                                                         Men – or waist girth > 102 cm (40 in)                                                                                              Women – or waist girth > to 88cm (35 in).
Hypertension Blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90                                                                              OR on antihypertensive medication.
Dyslipidemia LDL cholesterol greater than or equal to 130,                                                                              OR – HDL cholesterol less than 40                                                                                              OR – on lipid lowering medication.                                                                                                    *If only total serum cholesterol is available use – greater than or equal to 200.
Prediabetes Fasting glucose greater than or equal to 100 and less than or equal to 125.
Negative risk HDL greater than or equal to 60.       GOOD        (This cancels out one from above)
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