Can the cardiorespiratory function and exercise capacity of the elderly be roughly determined by a simple test?
This is a viable alternative for hospitals that lack specialized equipment and staff.
A. How do I do the 6-Minute Self-Test for Cardiorespiratory Fitness?
The 6-Minute Walk Test is a health test that can be performed by everyone. By walking for 6 minutes, it can determine a person’s heart and exercise health and rate the exercise endurance of heart failure patients, etc.
It is non-invasive, simple and safe, and can assess a range of heart and lung diseases including coronary artery disease, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure.
The 6-minute walk test is performed as follows.
The patient walks as fast as possible for six minutes on a 30-meter flat, straight road, and then the distance the patient walks during those six minutes is measured. During the test, the patient chooses the intensity of exercise he or she can tolerate and can rest or stop early. The recorder reports the time every one minute while the patient is walking and observes the patient for signs of discomfort.
If the patient felt symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, chest pain, or unstable gait, pale face, decreased blood pressure, dizziness and sweating, or spasms in the lower limbs during the test, the test should be stopped immediately and without reluctance.
Finally, the health care provider judges the cardiopulmonary function of the patient according to the length of the walking distance. If the distance is shorter than 150 meters, it indicates severe cardiac insufficiency, if the distance is 150 meters to 425 meters, it is moderate cardiac insufficiency; if the distance is 426 meters to 550 meters, it is mild cardiac insufficiency.  The shorter the distance, the worse the heart function.
B. There are 2 types of people who are not suitable for this test
The 6-minute walk test is convenient and easy to perform, and is suitable for most heart patients, people who have undergone heart surgery and are recovering, as well as elderly people with reduced heart function, and can reflect the current situation of the heart more objectively.
However, there are two types of people who are not suitable for this test.
1. Patients who have had unstable angina or myocardial infarction within the last 1 month.
Unstable angina is intermediate between exertional angina and acute myocardial infarction and may develop without warning, so all forms of exercise and exertion should be avoided. Patients with myocardial infarction need to remain sedentary after hospital admission and must avoid overexertion. Such should not be walked for long distances, otherwise the myocardial infarction may suddenly recur during the test and endanger life.
2. People whose resting heart rate exceeds 120 beats per minute, or whose blood pressure is higher than 180 mmHg systolic and 100 mmHg diastolic, are also relatively unsuitable for this test to avoid a sudden rise in blood pressure and heart rate during the walk, leading to fainting shock. If you want to test, you must be accompanied by professional medical personnel.
3. The elderly, so exercise longer life!
For the elderly, exercise is also one of the important ways to improve health, but take different intensity of exercise, the impact on the body is not the same.
According to a studAccording to a study published in thebmj, high intensity may be better to reduce the risk of death and improve health in older adults.
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and other institutions, through a 5-year follow-up of 1,567 septuagenarians, ultimately found that participants in the high-intensity interval training group had a 37% lower risk of all-cause mortality over 5 years. In general, high-intensity exercise suitable for older adults is aerobic exercise, including brisk walking, swimming, and square dancing, among others.
In addition, the elderly should pay attention to the following precautions when exercising.
1. Exercise should be moderate.
The body of the elderly is not as young, so the amount of exercise do not have to be too forced, to their own body’s feelings prevail, if there is discomfort, to stop immediately.
2. Exercise should be gradual.
The elderly began to exercise, you can first take a small amount of exercise, and then gradually increase the amount of exercise, do not do it overnight, so that the body can not bear.
3. Exercise to warm up in advance.
Warm up before exercise is good for the muscles and joints of the body to avoid strains during exercise.
4. Pay attention to the exercise time.
Older people exercise 5-7 times a week, preferably an hour before and after meals, and 30 minutes each time is appropriate.
Exercise has great benefits for the body of the elderly, and walking can also measure the heart function of the elderly. However, it should be noted that exercise for the elderly must follow the principle of appropriate and moderate amount, and intersperse high-intensity exercise with low- and medium-intensity exercise, which is more beneficial to health.