Before You Start An Exercise Program

Before you start an exercise program, there are a few questions to ask yourself to determine whether you should see your doctor first.

Question Yourself

Your first step is to ask yourself how active you want to be. This may sound like a silly question—you’re probably planning on doing whatever you’re capable of, whether that’s a slow walk around the block or a vigorous step class. But if you’re of a certain age or have cer- tain cardiovascular risk factors, you may need to see your physician before beginning a program that involves vigorous (as opposed to moder- ate) aerobic activity. Here’s how exercise intensities are typically defined:


This is an intensity that can be sustained relatively comfortably for a long period of time (about 60 minutes). This type of exercise typi- cally begins slowly, progresses gradually and usually isn’t competitive in nature.


This is an intensity that is high enough to significantly raise both your heart and breathing rates, and is usually performed for about 20 min- utes before fatigue sets in. Are you planning to participate in vigorous activities and are a man over 45 or a woman over 55? You should receive a medical exam first. The same is true for individuals of any age with two or more coronary artery disease risk factors. If you’re unsure if this applies to you, check with your physician.

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