Tough Doctor Visit & Saturday Study Recap: Physiological Assessments
Wow! I did not get my study recaps posted the last two Saturdays. The first Saturday, I missed posting because I was in Utah visiting family. In fact, that Saturday night, I was helping one sister out with her and her husband’s haunted house, and later attending another sister’s bachelorette party. As if that wasn’t enough, after that, I had to stop at the store to pic up some ingredients to make some paleo minion cupcakes for my son’s birthday party the next day. It was a very busy, late night.
I had every intention of posting last Saturday, but in all honesty, I was still quite exhausted from my trip. Just a few days after that, I had a disappointing doctor’s appointment. My husband tells me to assume nothing is wrong until there is a diagnosis. However, in this case, I know something is wrong.
Earlier this year, my urologist had me get an MRI to rule out MS as a possible reason my bladder is not functioning properly. While the MRI did not show signs of MS, it presented a different problem. Apparently, my cerebellum is atrophying. This past week, my neurologist has had me do quite a bit of lab work to try to figure out the cause. None of the possibilities sound good. It’s been a tough year. I was diagnosed with celiac this year. My urologist determined that my bladder does not contract without my abdominal muscles squeezing it this year. Now my cerebellum. To be honest, I’m dreading all of this lab work. I really don’t need them finding anything else.
Still, I’m trying to stay positive. I’m trying to focus on my health and fitness. If you’ve noticed that I’ve been posting less, it is only because I’m being mindful of my stress. I’m not beating myself up if I don’t post daily or every other day. I’m sure I’ll have something to share at least twice a week. I’m focusing on my health and well-being, and that means keeping my stress levels under control.
Anyway, after missing two Study Recaps, I’m excited to say that I really loved this section. I’ve been learning about physiological assessments. These can be handy for a trainer in developing a client’s exercise program. These can also be handy for anyone wanting to monitor they’re physiological progress. A lot of these assessments can be done on your own, and you can periodically reevaluate yourself. Of course there are some assessments that require fancy equipment that most people don’t have access to (a tank of water designed to check your body fat, known as hydrostatic weighing, for example), so I’m not going to focus on those. Here’s a quick list of some fun assessments you can do on your own:
- Skin fold measurements: Skin fold measurements are used to check body fat using a simple skin fold caliper. There is definitely room for error, but accuracy improves with practice. Men use the caliper on their chest, thigh, and abdomen. Women use it on their tricep, thigh, and abdomen. Learn more about that, here.
- Body Mass Index: Body Mass Index (BMI) refers to the ratio of a person’s weight over height (BMI=Weight/Height). Unfortunately, BMI does not take into account what the weight is comprised of, whether it be lean tissue or fat.
- Girth Measurements: Girth measurements can be taken of the abdomen, arm, buttocks, calf, forearm, midthigh, upper thigh, and waist to monitor growth or loss.
- Submaximal Talk Test for VT1: This test is a cardiorespiratory test to determine a person’s first ventilatory threshold. The first ventilatory threshold is typically the point at which the body switches from burning fat for energy to burning carbohydrates. To find your first ventilatory threshold, hop on a treadmill or a bike. Recite a favorite nursery rhyme out loud. The point at which it becomes uncomfortable to talk is the first ventilatory threshold. Most people have to take a deep breath every 5-10 words at this point.
- Walk/Run Test: Run or walk for a mile/mile and a half. Go as fast as you can. If you choose to walk, only walk, but walk as fast as you can. If you choose to run, only run. Immediately, after completing your run/walk, check your heart rate. When you repeat the test at a later date, walk if you walked the first time, and run if you ran the first time.
- Muscular Endurance Tests: Complete the following exercises until fatigue prevents you from continuing: push-ups (regular or modified), curl-ups (like a sit-up, but only lift 1/3 of the way), and squats. Right down how many of each exercise you are able to do before fatigue stops you from continuing. Retest periodically. This is a great way to track muscular endurance progress.
- 1RM: One rep max is a great way to check muscular strength. It refers to the highest weight you can bench press, squat, or leg press for just one rep. However, this requires excellent form and preferably two spotters. It is unwise to do this on your own.
- Long Jump: This is a great way to assess explosive leg power. Make a starting line with masking tape on the ground. Keeping both feet together as you take off, jump as far as you can. Measure from the tape to the rearmost point of contact.
- High Jump: This is another great way to assess explosive leg power. With chalk on your hand, stand next to a wall. Jump as high as you can, and tap the wall with your chalked hand. Measure from the ground to the chalk.
- Quick Sprints: Set up cones 20-40 meters apart. The distance is not important. What is important is that when the test is repeated to check progress, it must always be set up with the same distance. Time yourself as you run your sprints. Recheck periodically to check progress.
Periodic assessments to check for progress can be very motivating. Seeing progress can be the perfect boost to encourage a person to keep going and to keep pushing themselves.