Despite all the health and fitness benefits from regular exercise, there are documented risks related to exercise. This article will focus on promoting exercise safety and preventing adverse events during exercise. Fitness industry is aware of the risks in prescribing exercises, but the question is how many of them use pre exercise screening to minimize occurrence of any adverse event during exercise. It is also important at an individual level that people should be aware of pre exercise screening for their own good.
The major concerns associated with exercise are sudden cardiac deaths and heart attacks. These risks are relatively higher amongst people who kick-start an unfamiliar exercise program with sedentary lifestyle or underlying cardiac condition background. Others can be musculoskeletal issues like joint degeneration which can be aggravated from vigorous exercises. That is why before starting an exercise program, a person should undergo screening to prevent risks of injury and illness. Pre exercise screening helps in structuring a person’s exercise program to gain optimum benefit and reducing risk of injury or illness from exercise.
Many countries like US, Australia, Singapore have already started incorporating a screening system for the same, which guides fitness professionals to carry out basic screening for their clients and refer for further medical investigations if required.
The most basic screening which can be done is by collecting basic demographic details such as age, gender, and existing medical condition of a person. Using a PAR-Questionnaire is another simple tool to determine risk level and is also easily available online.
PAR-Q – Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire – This is the most basic, self-guided and entry level questionnaire for screening. PAR-Q comprises of 7 questions which predict the risk level for an individual. Depending on the number of questions answered “yes“ or “no”, risk level is determined for that individual. For example, if the person selects “no” for all the 7 questions, he is at low risk.
At clinical level, an in-depth health screening is done to categorize the person’s risk level. A complete medical history is obtained and necessary investigations are done if any medical condition is suspected. A detailed information about food habits/diet, lifestyle and experience with exercise is also obtained. After complete medical screening the patient is categorized under low, moderate or high risk depending upon the number and severity of existing medical conditions and lifestyle habits.
After risk stratification, the person is advised on his limitations towards exertion in exercise and also if he should undergo a medically supervised exercise program or not. This way a person can enjoy all the benefits of exercises by minimizing risk of any illness or injury.
So if you are planning to start a new exercise program make sure you undergo pre-exercise screening and if in doubt, consult your doctor.
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