Should I see my healthcare provider before starting an exercise program?

Yes, you should see your health care provider before starting an exercise program. They will screen you for any underlying or limiting conditions and makes sure you’re healthy enough to undergo an exercise program.

Yes, I always encourage people to visit their health care provider before starting a fitness program. First, you want to make sure that your body is ready for exercise. For example, a safe and effective fitness program will contain resisitance training that will require joint motions and cardiorespiratory that will will challenge your heart and lungs. A checkup from your physician will help anticipate any issues you may face during your workouts or changes to your nutrition.

I also mentioned, effective as a part of you fitness program; a visit to your doctor will also yield some good advice on how to make sure you see results in your health and fitness goals. If there are limitations or health issues that could hamper your results, your doctor will be able to advise on alternatives to ensure success.

I always recommend clients see a health care provider before starting an exercise program, especially if they haven’t exercise in quite some time. It also can be beneficial to consult with a personal trainer for a fitness assessment prior to beginning an exercise program, so the trainer can ensure you are starting exercises at an appropriate level based on your current abilities and your ultimate goals.

Here are some additional guidelines from the Mayo Clinic regarding when you should see a healthcare professional prior to starting an exercise program:

Health experts suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program if any of the following apply:

1) You have heart disease.
2) You have asthma or lung disease.
3) You have diabetes, or liver or kidney disease.
4) You have arthritis.

 

You should also check with your doctor if you have symptoms suggestive of heart, lung or other serious disease, such as:

1) Pain or discomfort in your chest, neck, jaw or arms during physical activity.
2) Dizziness or loss of consciousness.
3) Shortness of breath with mild exertion or at rest, or when lying down or going to bed.
4) Ankle swelling, especially at night.
5) A heart murmur or a rapid or pronounced heartbeat.
6) Muscle pain when walking upstairs or up a hill that goes away when you rest

Source referenced: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/SM00059

When working with a fitness professional you will fill out a PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire) before starting any exercise program. This is a quick tool to use to determine the risk of starting an exercise program by questions that you answer about your health history. Based on your responses, he will determine whether a health care provider should be consulted before beginning an exercise program.

Seeing a health care professional is not always necessary but is a good idea.  Even though you may think you are in perfect health there maybe things that you can't see or feel.  Knowing if you have any risk factors with help you out and if you are seeing a qualified fitness professional they will know what to do and how to prescribe the proper exercise routine. 
Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
I always recommend that people see their provider before starting an exercise program.  It is important to know if you have any risk factors for heart disease.  Many of these may be silent such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.   For many, a stress test may be recommended to assess fitness level and to make sure that exercise will not exert a strain on the heart.

If a patient is overweight or obese it is important to know how to start a program and to have some supervision so that there is less of a chance for injury.
 

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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.