You should really talk to a doctor before working out. Here’s when you should do it, and how can a physician help you with your fitness goal.
You may have heard the common advice to talk to a doctor before you start a new workout program. It may have come from an advertisement, from a personal trainer, or even from a friend or family member.
But is this advice really valuable? If so, why is it important? And are there any alternatives?
Understanding The Motivation
First, you should understand the motivation for many of these messages.
If you’re hearing this warning on an advertisement for a local gym, or if you see it printed on weight lifting equipment, it’s safe to acknowledge that they’re including the message for legal reasons.
They don’t want to be responsible for someone using their equipment irresponsibly.
If someone injures themselves or aggravates a preexisting condition, they may then be able to sue their doctor for medical malpractice, rather than targeting a faulty product.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore the warning, but it does help to understand its full context.
How A Doctor Can Help?
There are a few ways a doctor can help you, if you talk with them before starting a new exercise program:
1. Helping You Understand The Benefits Of Exercise
You probably don’t need a doctor to tell you about the health benefits of exercise, but a doctor may be able to help you understand how it can improve your specific risk factors.
2. Directing You To A Healthy Exercise Routine
Your physician may also help you determine what an appropriate exercise regimen is for you.
3. Evaluating Your Personal Risks
Most importantly, your doctor will be able to help you evaluate your personal risks.
If you have a family history of heart attack, stroke, or other conditions that could be aggravated with excessive exercise, they can guide you in a reasonable exercise routine, or caution you to avoid certain types of exercises.
4. Judging Your Physical Condition As A Baseline
Your doctor will also run a physical examination that can serve as a baseline, to determine how exercise affects you.
For example, if you have chronic pain in one of your ankles, they can gauge the condition before you start exercising, to determine whether your workouts are improving or worsening it.
They can also take your weight and verify your vitals, to see how they improve over time.
When To Talk To A Doctor?
Some people have a greater need for a physician’s opinion than others. If any of the follow apply to you, you should almost certainly talk to a doctor before starting a new workout program:
1. You’re Over The Age Of 35
If you’re over the age of 35, you’re at increased risk for a wide variety of different health conditions.
It’s a good idea to check in with a doctor to make sure you’re in good shape to continue your program (or start a new one).
2. Have A Preexisting Heart Or Lung Condition
If you have a heart condition, or any circulatory condition, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you should talk to your doctor before starting.
Exercise puts extra strain on these conditions, and could lead to something worse if you don’t take the proper precautions.
3. Have Arthritis Or Chronic Pain
If you suffer from arthritis or other forms of chronic pain, a doctor will be able to help you find exercises that are comfortable while managing your condition.
And if possible, your doctor will present you some exercises to lessen the amount of pain you experience.
4. You’ve Recently Made Major Lifestyle Changes
Different stresses and physical conditions can make exercise more or less effective (or, in some cases, even dangerous).
5. You’re Significantly Overweight
If you’re only a few pounds overweight, exercise is a great way to get back into shape.
But if you’re significantly overweight, or obese, it’s a good idea to delve into exercise gently, with basic exercises. Your doctor can help you determine these.
6. Have Discomfort Or Dizziness When Exerting Yourself
If you feel dizzy or disoriented when exerting yourself, it may be a bad sign. Talk to your doctor before pushing yourself to the limit.
Is It Necessary?
Let’s look at the bottom line: is it truly necessary to talk to a doctor before you start a new exercise routine?
For most healthy people, the answer is no. But there are some benefits to doing it. If you have even a slight doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and talk to a doctor anyway.