Fitness Safety: When To See Your Physician Before Exercising

If you have medical questions about exercising safely, our checklist will help you understand when your doctor should review your fitness program before you begin.

Warmer temperatures and longer days make it more comfortable to pursue the exercise we need to stay healthy. The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association encourage all adults to include 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days per week.

Frequently, exercise recommendations include cautions to check with a physician before beginning a new fitness routine. Although many of us can safely begin a fitness program without seeing our doctor first, there are health circumstances that could make it unsafe to exercise without medical clearance. The safety of an exercise program is determined, in part, by the number of heart disease risk factors or joint problems a person may have.

The American College of Sports Medicine has created a list of seven questions that anyone can use to determine whether it is important to schedule time with a physician before beginning an exercise program:

  • Has your doctor ever said that you have a heart condition and that you should only do physical activity recommended by a doctor?
  • Do you feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity?
  • In the past month, have you had chest pain when you were not doing physical activity?
  • Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness?
  • Do you have a joint problem (for example, back, knee or hip) that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?
  • Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs (for example, water pills) for your blood pressure or heart condition?
  • Do you know of any other reason why you should not do physical activity?

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, see your doctor before you increase your physical activity. If you don’t need medical clearance, remember that it’s still important to pace yourself, and increase your level of activity gradually to avoid injury. Following these guidelines will help you reach your fitness goals safely while you enjoy the warmer sunnier days that arrive with spring.

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