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Do You Need to Talk to Your Doctor Before You Start an Exercise Program?

IMAGE For many people, starting an exercise program for the first time is quite safe. However, depending on your age and whether you have certain cardiovascular risk factors, you may need to see your doctor before starting a program of vigorous (as opposed to moderate) aerobic activity. The American Council on Exercise offers the following advice to help you determine if you need a doctor's okay before starting an exercise program.

General Guidelines

If you are planning to participate in vigorous activities and are a man over 45 or a woman over 55, you should have a medical exam first. The same is true if you have two or more coronary artery disease risk factors, which include:

Specific Questions to Ask Yourself

Ask yourself the following questions to help determine if you need an exercise program approved by a doctor. If you answer "yes" to any one of the following questions, you should talk with your doctor before you start an exercise program.
If you answered "no" to all of these questions and you have no cardiovascular risk factors, a moderate physical activity program should be safe for you. But again, if you are a man over 45 or a woman over 55 and want to exercise more vigorously, you should check with your doctor before getting started.

RESOURCES

American Council on Exercise http://www.acefitness.org

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports http://www.fitness.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology http://www.csep.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References

Before you start an exercise program. American Council on Exercise website. Available at: http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy%5Fliving%5Ffit%5Ffacts%5Fcontent.aspx?itemid=2612. Accessed December 9, 2015.

Coronary artery disease (CAD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 26, 2015. Accessed December 9, 2015.

Physical activity guidelines for Americans EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 9, 2013. Accessed December 9, 2015.

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