Exercise Physiology

Exercise physiology is the study of the function of the human body in response to acute and chronic physical activity. The mission of the Cardiopulmonary Exercise Physiology Lab at Nationwide Children's is to assess the ability of patients to perform physical activities at home, school, work and recreation. The exercise physiology lab is equipped and staffed to perform clinical exercise testing, rehabilitative exercise and clinical research. Additional services include stress echocardiography and exercise prescription.

Exercise Stress Test

An exercise test, sometimes called a stress test, is performed to help doctors figure out how well a child’s body responds to physical activity. This test will give detailed information on how well the heart, lungs and muscles work together in response to increased physical demands.

This testing is performed in an Exercise Laboratory with properly trained Exercise Technicians and Exercise Physiologists. The patient will be asked to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle while being hooked up to equipment that will measure their heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation. During this testing, the patient may also be asked to breathe through a mouthpiece before, during and after testing. On occasion, an echocardiogram may be performed along with the exercise testing.

Before Your Child has an Exercise Stress Test

  • They should have a meal and a non-caffeinated beverage two hours prior to the scheduled testing time. After eating this meal, they cannot have anything else to eat or drink until after the testing has been completed.

  • Please have your child wear loose, comfortable clothing and tennis shoes during testing.

  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the scheduled testing time to complete registration.

  • Please follow all instructions regarding the use of medications prior to testing. These instructions will be provided to you when you schedule the appointment.

Physician Referral Information

Exercise testing is scheduled by appointment through either a primary care physician or cardiologist referral. The testing is completed on the main campus of Nationwide Children’s. Test results are provided to the referring physician, who will then contact the patient or family.

For any questions about scheduling an exercise test, please call (614) 722-5562.

Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program consisting of exercise and education to help improve the health and well being of children who have a heart condition.

During each cardiac rehabilitation session, the patient will perform supervised exercise activity with an Exercise Physiologist or Physical Therapist. These sessions will involve both safe and fun activities aimed at improving cardiovascular strength, endurance and flexibility. During these sessions, the patient will be monitored to watch how their heart responds to the increased demands of physical activity. This will help the cardiologist determine what kind and what level of exercise is safe. In addition to the exercise therapy, the patient may also receive education from Dieticians and Psychologists to help them learn about living a healthy lifestyle and managing their heart condition. On occasion, patients may also receive a relaxing massage to assist with muscle soreness or tightness. They may also consult with a Recreational Therapist to assist in finding activities they enjoy and can help incorporate physical activity into everyday life.

Typical program expectations extend 2-3 days per week for a 6-8 week time period. Each session is approximately 1-2 hours long. After 6-8 weeks, re-assessment will occur to see if further rehabilitation is necessary or if a prescribed home exercise program is the proper path. Our goal is to help keep patients on track and incorporate exercise into daily routines for years to come.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest in Athletes