Under what circumstances should I call my doctor while exercising?

If you notice any of the following symptoms stop exercising and rest. If these symptoms persist, call your doctor immediately.

  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Dizziness, light-headiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain in one or both arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or stomach
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Howard E. Lewine, MD
Symptoms to be concerned about during physical exertion include:
  • Chest pain
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Feeling like you might pass out
  • A sudden, drenching sweat or cold sweat (Sweating is good, but it should come on gradually during exercise)
If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately. Don't restart any exercise without first talking to your doctor.
Harvard Medical School Workout Workbook: 9 complete workouts to help you get fit and healthy

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Harvard Medical School Workout Workbook: 9 complete workouts to help you get fit and healthy

The numbers are shocking. Just three out 10 American adults are active enough to stay healthy and fit, and nearly four out of 10 admit they aren t active at all, despite reams of research proving...
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Physical Therapy
Call a doctor for advice if you experience any of these warning signs during or after exercise:
  • sudden, sharp, or intense pain
  • dizziness; faintness; chest pain, pressure, heaviness, or tightness; or significant or persistent shortness of breath
  • in hot, humid weather, headache, dizziness, nausea, faintness, cramps, or palpitations, which are the likely signs of overheating
  • pain lasting one or two weeks (as distinct from delayed-onset muscle soreness, a normal response to taxing your muscles that usually peaks 24 to 48 hours after a workout and gradually abates over several days)
This is rather general, but the worst-case scenarios are when you feel chest pain while exercising, respiratory distress or obviously extreme pain. While chest pain is a broad topic, generally you should not feel chest pain while exercising. Shortness of breath that lasts well beyond after you have finished exercising, or shortness of breath associated with pain, is a good reason to seek medical attention. Anytime you experience extreme pain, it is reasonable to seek medical attention. In general, anything that you are concerned about or that you feel isn't right can be a reason to seek medical attention.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.