Typically, weight loss and fitness advice is accompanied by the recommendation that you see a physician before starting a diet or exercise program, but that is mostly to cover the bases of the one doling out the advice. Though most people should be able to handle common exercises with no problem, no one wants to be responsible when the exception to the rule injures themselves. Still, because you may be an exception to the rule, it might be a good idea for you to see your GP before diving headlong into a diet or exercise program.
Sometimes It’s Not An Issue
If you are in the habit of seeing your doctor annually, you probably don’t need to schedule an extra appointment before you start a fitness and weight loss program. This is especially true if your physicals over the past few years have been essentially normal with no indications that any serious health conditions had developed or might develop. If your blood pressure and blood tests are normal and, other than being a bit overweight or out of shape, you feel fine, you should be OK to start working out. You can always mention your new fitness regimen and discuss any questions with your doctor at your next visit.
Pay Attention to Red Flags
Of course, if you know that you have a serious health condition, it’s best to consult a physician before participating in an activity that could aggravate it. Even though moderate physical activity can improve many health issues, your doctor will advise you on the best ways to get the most out of exercising without making your condition worse. The Mayo Clinic says that people with arthritis, asthma or other respiratory disease, diabetes, or heart or kidney disease should talk to their doctors before starting a weight loss or exercise program.
Sometimes, people experience symptoms of a serious disease but haven’t been diagnosed. Harvard Health advises that people who have problems with balance or who experience dizzy spells should see a doctor before starting an exercise program. Other symptoms that should not be ignored include pain in the neck, jaw, or chest during exercise, shortness of breath while exercising or even when at rest, rapid heartbeat, ankle swelling, or joint or lower leg pain. Also, if you take medications that make you dizzy or drowsy, talk to your physician about how your prescriptions may affect you physically if you start working out.
Still Not Sure?
If you aren’t sure whether or not to see your doctor before beginning a weight loss and exercise program, don’t feel bad. Many people have been conditioned to play it safe instead of taking a risk and being sorry later. Seeing the difficulty some people have when trying to decide between jumping into an exercise regimen or waiting until a doctor has given them the OK, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology developed the PAR-Q–the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire. It’s a handy little tool that can save some time and anxiety by helping you to conclusively determine whether a visit the doctor before starting a workout program is necessary.