Starting a New Workout Routine? 4 Things to Ask Your Doctor

Jake Newby

| 3 min read

Asian active senior male exercising and workout with dumbbell in gym room during weekend activity
The beginning of the new year is a popular time to embark on a new fitness journey.
If you have decided to start exercising, you’re taking a fantastic step in achieving better overall health. Working out can go a long way in managing pain and boosting your mood. But if your body isn’t accustomed to consistent exercise, you should consult with your primary care physician first, especially if you have any of these medical conditions:

• Arthritis
• Cancer (or you’ve recently completed cancer treatment)
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Kidney disease
• Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
• Lung disease

A good time to ask questions could be during your next physical exam. If you don’t have one lined up, it’s worth scheduling an appointment specifically to ask these questions:

How much activity should I aim for?

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggests average adults exercise moderately (think light cardiovascular activity) between 3 and 5 hours a week. Two to three hours of muscle-strengthening exercises should be mixed in, as well. However, recommendations change for older adults.

If it’s been years since you’ve ridden a bike or lifted a dumbbell, “start low and go slow.” You can start by walking daily and using light dumbbells. Increase physical activity gradually over time to meet key guidelines or health goals.

What forms of exercise are best for me?

Different exercises work for different people. If you have bad knees, for example, your primary care physician may recommend cycling and using an elliptical instead of running. If you use a wheelchair or have mobility limitations in general, you may require specific recommendations. For example, your primary care physician may suggest using a stationary bike or jogging on treadmills, because they require less balance than biking or jogging outdoors.

How does exercise affect my medications?

Medications can cause changes in things like lung and bone functions and can also alter your heart rate and rhythms. If you take insulin or diabetes meds, for example, working out intensely or for a lengthy amount of time means you might have to adjust what you eat that day, or adjust your medication. You should have a conversation with your primary care physician about what adjustments you should make.

Is my preventive care up to date?

You should make sure you are free of new or unsuspecting conditions before starting a workout regimen. For example, if you deal with chest pain periodically, your primary care physician may recommend a stress test to see how your heart works during physical activity. Women over age 65 should be checked regularly for osteoporosis. People with osteoporosis must be careful not to put too much stress on their spine while exercising. If you have concerns about osteoporosis and exercising, please speak to your primary care doctor about this.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network members may receive some preventive exams and services at no cost. Read this brochure to learn more about preventive care recommendations based on age.
Photo credit: Getty Images
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association