Do You Really Have to Seek A Doctor's Advice Before You Exercise?Apr 15, 2014
It’s springtime and you want to start getting into shape again. But every time you see some sort of fitness program on TV, there’s always a friendly reminder to "consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.” Dr. Tom Miller tells you whether or not it's actually necessary to pay your physician a visit before exercising.
Man: Medical news and research from University of Utah physicians and specialists you can use for a happier and healthier life. You're listening to The Scope.
Dr. Miller, it's springtime. I want to start getting in shape, but every time I see an advertisement for some sort of fitness thing on TV, they're always say, "Consult your physician before starting any exercise regimen."
Is there actually some reason I should really go and talk to my doctor?
Dr. Tom Miller: Well, that's a pretty good question. So, bottom line there is, I usually will tell. . . Most people that can walk down a block or climb two flights of stairs, they're going to be fine starting out with incremental exercise and then working up to some level, like running a couple of miles.
I'll tell you, the guys that I worry about are the ones that have been kind of sitting on the couch not doing a lot, and all the sudden, they hear from the Boy Scout leader down the street that they want them to be part of the Boy Scout Camp, and they're going to hike 25 miles with a 30 pound pack.
Now, those are the guys I will kind of thinking about putting on a treadmill and checking their cardiac function before they head out. But other than that, most people, they may get into exercise right away. Do what's sensible.
Man: I'm assuming that most people that would need to talk to you, a physician, before engaging in exercise would probably know that they need to. I mean, is that a fair assumption?
Dr. Tom Miller: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, especially if there's a. . . There could be a history of medical problems that might make you want to put the person on a treadmill, test their stamina, their function, their cardiac strength, and so forth. But most of the time, people can get out there and start their exercising patterns pretty quickly.
Man: And incremental. That's important.
Dr. Tom Miller: You could start. Start slow, work up. Don't go crazy. I knew a guy when I was working at NIH, and he signed up for the Washington D.C. marathon, and just took off and started running the marathon. He only made it to mile 18.
You know, usually in marathons people are cheering you along, but in this marathon they were yelling at him and saying that he was going to fail, that he should stop, that he looked like he was going to die. So he quit and wound up with blisters on his feet and chafing rashes on his legs. It was a little. . . You know. So he didn't do that again. So that's not what I recommend.
Man: So, as far as seeing your doctor, you probably know. Otherwise, just start incrementally. Any other advice?
Dr. Tom Miller: Yeah. Bottom line is if you can climb several flights of stairs without becoming winded or having any kind of pains, then you're going to be okay to go. If there's a medical history of heart disease or lung disease, then you probably should check with your doctor. If you've been very sedentary over the last year or so, and you want to get into an exercise program, that might be the better part of valor, to have a stress test, otherwise, no.
Man: Get exercising.
Dr. Tom Miller: Get going. It's springtime.
Man: We're your daily dose of science, conversation, medicine. This is The Scope, University of Utah Health Sciences Radio.