Pre screening for exercise has three (3) stages, with the first stage being compulsory and the other 2 optional, but recommended.
Stage 1 pre-screening questionnaire
The first stage is a pre-screening questionnaire, that can be completed with a professional or self-administered. The aim of the pre-screening questionnaire’s first stage is “to identify those individuals with a known disease, or signs or symptoms of disease, who may be at a higher risk of an adverse event during physical activity/exercise.” The questionnaire consists of seven (7) questions:
- Has your doctor ever told you that you have a heart condition or have you ever suffered a stroke?
- Do you ever experience unexplained pains in your chest at rest or during physical activity/exercise?
- Do you ever feel faint or have spells of dizziness during physical activity/exercise that causes you to lose balance
- Have you had an asthma attack requiring immediate medical attention at any time over the last 12 months?
- If you have diabetes (type I or type II) have you had trouble controlling your blood glucose in the last 3 months?
- Do you have any diagnosed muscle, bone or joint problems that you have been told could be made worse by participating in physical activity/exercise?
- Do you have any other medical condition(s) that may make it dangerous for you to participate in physical activity/exercise?
A yes to any of these questions means the person is at high risk for undertaking exercise and needs to be cleared by a medical practitioner before training can begin.
Stage 2 pre-screening questionnaire
The second stage of the pre-screening questionnaire aims “to identify those individuals with risk factors or other conditions to assist with appropriate exercise prescription,” and is administered by an exercise professional such as an Exercise Physiologist. This stage has 12 questions that look at family history, behavioural risk factors, and underlying medical conditions such as hypertension that could make exercise more risky.
If a person has risk factors then their training and exercise should be catered to their health needs. This often means beginning training at lower intensities and processing more slowly.
Stage 3 pre-screening measurements
- Waist girth
- resting blood pressure
- fasting lipid profile
- fasting blood glucose
These measurements are taken by an exercise professional and help guide the them in exercise prescription.
Pre-screening enhances the well-being of the athlete, because it helps guide the exercise professional in exercise prescription that caters to the specific needs of the individual. It also ensures those who are at high risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke during exercise are first cleared by their medical practitioner, and have correct supervision and prescription of exercise to avoid harm. Pre-screening is important, because physical activity is very beneficial for all people, including those of higher risk categories, and the pre-screening ensures proper precautions and liberties are taken.
 Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2009). Adult Pre-Exercise Screening Questionnaire. Accessed at https://www.essa.org.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/Screen-tool-version-v1.1.pdf on 19 December 2015.