LETTER R- RISK FACTOR IDENTIFICATION & RISK STRATIFICATION

This topic may appear very fancy to those who read it the first time but trust me this is the most basic but sadly, a neglected one! Everyone must have heard ‘Exercise daily, it’s good for health’ but its implementation is important.The fact that Exercise has numerous short and long term benefits is well known yet there are certain adverse events associated with it if it’s not done methodically. This is not to pacify those who find excuses not to exercise but rather to direct all to pick up exercising with a scientific judgment. This article will brief you with concept of ‘Pre-participation Screening’. Let’s simplify the term for better understanding.

*Pre – before

*Participation – taking part in physical activity

*Screening – Process of filtering out the risk before initiating a physical activity particularly if the intended exercise intensity is vigorous.

 So we shall learn what can be done before we start exercising to cut down the possible catastrophic events.

 This process can be done in the following two ways:

1.Self- guided     2.Professionally guided

Our focus here is the former one. Self-guided in essence doesn’t mean what one feels but rather the use of a questionnaire or instrument which serves to alert those with elevated risk to consult a health care provider before participation. To start with, it is essential to familiarize with one of the most user friendly questionnaire: PAR-Q form. It stands for Physical Activity Readiness – Questionnaire form. It has a series of 7 simple questions which has to be answered only as Yes/No and it carries interpretation and instructions as well. Even though its nothing too extravagant it’s a product of intense research and is only simplified to help the mass eliminate the most basic risks.

The second concept is looking at the individual as whole which is best done by a health care professional yet there are a few points which you can pick up as well.

 All these might appear like Greek at the first go but don’t worry there is a comprehensive reflection to it. Let’s take the step approach:

 Step 1- Disease/Condition : If you are already diagnosed with any particular condition like Diabetes, Stroke, any heart or lung pathology or in fact any condition which your physician ever told you to be careful about you straight away fall in HIGH RISK. Alarmed? Thinking what it means?? Just wait till we explore the terms.

Step 2- Signs and Symptoms :This is if you have some bodily complains like resting chest pain , sudden dizziness etc but you don’t have a diagnosis per say.

Step 3- Risk Factors : You do not have anything troubling as such yet there can be a risk! This is the most neglected part. For example if you are a chronic smoker or had a first degree relative die due to heart problem at a young age etc.

Now what’s the “RISK LEVEL”?

The next analysis is  exercise intensity  and deciding it with risk factor stratification is important.

MODERATE intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation.

VIGOROUS intensity physical activity means working very hard with substantial increase in heart rate ,sweat,rapid breathing not being able to carry on a conversation.

Why bother about the intensity?

The concept is to do the optimal. When you have the capacity of vigorous intensity settling for moderate is a compromise and vice versa!

So to conclude please do not just start exercising for the sake of it without checking which risk category you fall in. If there are any queries please consult a healthcare professional ,remember the idiom “Better safe than Sorry”! An individualized approach works best for you as your body mechanism and requirements are unique. Optimal i.e. neither too high now too low level exercise parameters works best for fitness purpose. All it takes is just one simple step to curb the risk associated with exercising. Take care!