4 Questions for Your Doctor About Exercise

Senior woman talking with doctor, receiving good news.

Are you one of those who made a New Year resolution to exercise more? In a recent survey, 52% of respondents said that was their goal. It’s not too late to start, but it is important to start safely – especially if workouts are a new activity or if a lot of time has passed.

The National Institute on Aging recommends asking your doctor the following questions before starting (or restarting) physical activities:

  1. What types of exercise would work for me? Your medical history and current activity level will help your doctor recommend exercises that are doable and safe. Your doctor can also help you come up with a plan to gradually increase the intensity or duration of your physical activity. This information might be part of an exercise prescription, which indicates how you should exercise and for how long. You can “fill” this prescription by yourself or coordinate with a personal trainer or exercise medicine specialist.
  2. Are there any exercises or activities I should avoid? Your doctor can make recommendations based on your health history, keeping in mind any recent surgeries or ongoing health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease. This would be a great time to check with your doctor about any unexplained symptoms you’ve been experiencing, such as chest pain or pressure, joint pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath. Your doctor may recommend postponing exercise until the problem is diagnosed and treated.
  3. How does my health condition affect my ability to exercise? Some health conditions can affect your exercise routine. For example, people with arthritis may need to avoid some types of activity, especially when joints are swollen or inflamed. Those with diabetes may need to adjust their daily schedule, meal plan, or medications when planning their activities. Your doctor can talk with you about any adjustments you need to make to ensure that you get the most out of your new exercise routine.
  4. Is my preventive care up to date? Your doctor can tell you if there are any tests you might need. For example, women over age 65 should be checked regularly for osteoporosis.

Sources: Statista; NIA.