FAQs About Exercise-Based Stress Tests

If your doctor is worried that you may have some plaque in your arteries or another heart condition developing, they are likely to send you for stress testing. And unless there is some reason why you cannot exercise, this stress test is likely to take place with you either running on a treadmill or pedaling and exercise bike. Stress tests give doctors a lot of insight, but they can be a little, well, stress-inducing for the participant. One way to reduce your stress about your upcoming exercise-based stress test is to review the answer to these FAQs.

What equipment will you be connected to?

During the stress test, the only real equipment that will be directly attached to your body is a few electrodes. They'll be sticky, and your doctor will stick them onto your chest in a few different locations. Sometimes, you may also be asked to wear a blood pressure monitor on your arm while you exercise. None of this equipment is painful or overly cumbersome; it should not get in your way.

How long do you have to exercise? 

Usually, to make useful observations with a stress test, your doctor will want to get you up to your maximum heart rate, and just hold you there for a few seconds. You don't have to exercise for too long for these observations to be made. Generally, you can expect to run or bike for about 10 minutes in total. Just as you start to become really uncomfortable, the test will be over.

What should you wear?

You're going to be running or cycling, so wear whatever you would typically wear to run or cycle! Gym shorts and a loose shirt are ideal. Your doctor may allow you to run without your shirt if you prefer to do so, but you can stay covered up if that's more comfortable for you. Also make sure you wear comfortable, supportive footwear, such as running shoes or cross-trainers. If you need to go somewhere after your stress test, bring a change of clothing. Most people do get a little sweaty during their stress test, so it's nice to have clean clothes to put on when you're done.

Stress tests are one of the most active types of tests that doctors conduct. Even though this test takes some effort on your part, it is worth going through to ensure your heart is healthy.