Exercise assessment

What is an exercise assessment test?

An exercise assessment, also called cardiopulmonary exercise test, involves performing an increasing level of activity so that your heart and lungs can be monitored to assess your level of fitness. 

Why do I need to have this test? 

These tests will help us understand what may be causing any limitation to the amount of activity you can undertake. This will help to give you the most appropriate treatment or advice.

Who will perform my test? 

The test will be performed by two respiratory physiologists. Respiratory physiologists are staff who have extensive training and knowledge in respiratory physiology and performing lung function tests. 

What will happen during the test? 

Before the test begins the physiologist will explain the test to you in detail and answer any questions that you have. 

To begin with you will be asked to perform some breathing tests through a mouthpiece. You will then have some electrodes attached to your chest so we can monitor your heart and be fitted with a facemask so we can monitor your breathing. 

The exercise is usually performed on a bicycle. Every minute the workload will increase until you feel you can no longer continue.

Important information

  • Please avoid vigorous exercise on the day of your appointment.
  • Please take all medication as normal and please bring a list of all medication with you.
  • Please do not smoke, consume alcohol or eat a heavy meal within four hours of the test.
  • Please wear loose clothing and shoes suitable for exercise.
  • Do not wear lipstick or nail varnish/false nails.
  • Please do not wear any body lotion. 

Thank you for your co-operation. This will assist us in obtaining accurate information and enable us to provide you with the most appropriate treatment. 

Frequently asked questions 

Will there be any discomfort or side effects of this test? 

This is a maximal test so you will feel short of breath and fatigued at the end but this will resolve once the test has ended. Your breathing and heart rhythm are monitored continuously during the test. At any time either you or the physiologist can stop the test.

Is there a different test I could have? 

There is no other test that would give us all this information about your exercise tolerance and limitations. 

When will I be told the results of my test? 

The results will be sent to the professional that requested the test. They will discuss the results with you at your next appointment. 

Further information

If you have any questions regarding your appointment please call us on 0117 414 9939.

© North Bristol NHS Trust. This edition published June 2024. Review due June 2027. NBT002876.

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Exercise assessment