Prepping to Exercise
If you don’t normally exercise, there are a couple of things to be aware of.
Exercise stress test
In an exercise stress test, a person is usually placed on a treadmill and attached to an electrocardiogram. Measures of heart rate, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram readings are taken, while the cardiovascular demands on the person are progressively increased. In the case of a treadmill, the speed gradually becomes faster, and the incline becomes steeper (the treadmill tilts up, so you’re running uphill).
People are asked if they feel dizzy, light headed, or short of breath, or if they are experiencing any pain or tightness in their chest. Successful completion of an exercise stress test clears a patient for regular exercise and gives information about what the maximum heart rate should be.
The twenty-ten rule
When a person has been cleared for exercise, he or she may begin a strengthening program by using the “twenty-ten rule”. For example, if you are having trouble getting up from a chair, you may want to strengthen your knee extensors (the muscles that strengthen the knee). The objective of exercising is to repeatedly straighten the knee. When working with participants in a comprehensive management program, like our Jumpstart to Wellness program, we are able to customize exercises that focus on particular areas to truly strengthen the area of weakness.
When beginning these exercises, we may begin at five repetitions and when ready, can increase repetitions until twenty is reached. Once the reps have reached twenty, and they are feeling easy to perform, then we can reduce the number of repetitions down to ten and add a one pound of weight to the arms or legs. With the weight added, we work our way up until twenty repetitions are easy to perform, then drop the number of repetitions back down to ten and add another pound of weight. This is a way to slowly and consistently increase our strength.
There are many other methods for increasing strength, but most require (at least initially) the guidance of a fitness instructor, an exercise physiologist, or a physical or occupational therapist. This is for safety reasons, to make sure that you are performing the exercises properly. Strengthening exercises are the most likely type of exercises to cause injury if they are not performed properly.