What can having a Health MOT tell me about my fitness?

Personal Trainer Martyn Oakey fills us in on the tests involved in a Health MOT and how they can help you to improve your fitness.

The Health MOT is a short health assessment held in Nuffield Health gyms. Using non-invasive clinical tests and a questionnaire, a highly-qualified personal trainer will take your health information and use this to agree achievable health goals and create a fitness plan.

As a Nuffield Health member at least your first two Health MOTs are free each year, and are used to benchmark your progress.

So what tests are done and what do they mean?


Several tests are done in the Health MOT, including blood pressure (BP), which measures the pressure on the arterial walls when the blood is pumped from the heart (systolic) and then when the heart relaxes and fills back up (diastolic).

A higher BP can put unnecessary stress on the cardiovascular system especially over a sustained amount of time, so taking steps to monitor this will help reduce this stress and help prevent cardiovascular disease in the future.

Using an electronic blood pressure machine we will place the cuff on the left arm and ask the member to relax and place their feet on the floor, legs uncrossed. You’ll need to make sure your arms are bare for this test.

Don’t panic if your BP is elevated. Where required, your Personal Trainer will refer you to your GP to discuss this further in order to ensure that any subsequent exercise programme given to you is appropriate for your personal health needs.

Top tip to improve your BP:  
Taking regular steady-state cardiovascular training or being more active in general can help to improve your blood pressure. The fitter we make the heart the less stress it will emit onto the cardiovascular system.


We use a finger prick test in the Health MOT to test your glucose and your cholesterol levels. Both are present in the blood naturally, but higher volumes over time can cause damage to our cardiovascular system.

To do this test we take two finger pricks of blood using a concealed needle (or lancet) and we use a monitor and test strip to measure the amount of each substance in your blood. Don’t worry, most people don’t feel any pain during this test, which takes less than a second to perform.

During this part of the HMOT we can take time to discuss a few questions you might have regarding your HMOT up to this point, which we can use at the end of our session in the action planning stage.

Top tip to improve blood glucose and cholesterol levels:
Reducing the amount of sugary food and drink from your diet can reduce your blood glucose levels. And reducing the amount of foods containing saturated fat in your diet can help reduce your cholesterol levels. Physical activity is also good for this, as it uses up the excess sugars and fats in your diet.


One way to test aerobic fitness is a VO2 Max test, which measures how much oxygen we can utilise over a single minute. The more oxygen we are using, the fitter we are. Normally a VO2 Max test involves treadmills, face masks and high intensity exercise. But you’ll be glad to know we perform a different test to determine your aerobic fitness, which estimates your VO2 max by monitoring your heart rate variability, requiring none of the aerobic stress.

Our test counts the heart rate at rest, monitoring the variance of each beat. The fitter we become the more variance in heart rate we can have without causing added stress to the cardiovascular system. In fact, the more heart rate variability you have, the lower your risk of cardiovascular health problems.

You’ll wear a Polar Heart Rate strap around the chest and lay down as still as possible and silent for 3-5mins whilst the test program runs.

How does this help you get fitter?

Once we’ve filled out your health questionnaire and conducted our health tests we spend 15 minutes discussing the results and what actions we can take to improve these. Everyone’s results are different, and so every action plan is unique.

We start by setting a goal, normally the end result you’d like to achieve. We then break this down to smaller goals or ‘small victories’. This gives you targets to hit along the way to keep you motivated in the drive towards your ultimate goal.

During the discussion we will also look at your lifestyle and fitness and explore what options are available to you before fine tuning your programme.

We want you to feel supported and empowered to make these small victories count towards your fitness and wellbeing aspiration, so it all starts with clever planning and tasks you know you can achieve.

Last updated Wednesday 16 September 2020