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Active Families Research Project
Active Families Research Program

Treadmill exercise stress test

The treadmill exercise stress test allows us to monitor the child's heart function and breathing while they gradually walk at a faster rate. The child walks on a treadmill as long as possible until he/she is really tired. At first, the treadmill is very, very slow and it is flat so the walking is like walking slowly across the floor. Every two or three minutes the speed of the treadmill is slightly increased so that the child has to walk a little bit faster. The angle of the treadmill also changes so that eventually the child is walking up a hill. Some children may even jog or run for a very short time at the end of the test.

Throughout the exercise the child's electrocardiogram (a diagnostic tool that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart), oxygen saturation, energy expenditure and breathing are constantly measured. Children are able to stop the test at any time, but we encourage them to try to do their best. When children give us their best effort we are able to see how their heart functions when they are active, and that helps us to know what activities are most suitable for each child.

Before the exercise test begins, the children complete a series of breathing tests to make sure that their lungs and breathing is suitable for the monitoring equipment. The children are asked to blow into a tube which measures how hard they can blow and how much air they breathe with each big breath.
A picture of a child on a treadmill can be found at: www.kidshearts.com/images/stress_test_2.jpg

If you go to: www.kidshearts.com/images/stress_test.jpg you will see a picture of a child with the exercise mouthpiece (although the child is on an exercise bicycle, not a treadmill).