Should I get a physical before starting a fitness program?
The medical checkup is the first part of starting any weight lifting or exercise routine. Beginners should always get a full medical checkup and discuss their exercise plan and goals with a doctor before getting started.
Before beginning a program, you should determine if weight training is suitable for you. Most people can exercise safely if they are in good health and follow basic training principles.
However, exercise may pose a risk to health and well-being if there are preexisting medical conditions, such as coronary artery disease. People who die suddenly from heart attacks—some of them during exercise—usually have risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as high blood pressure or cigarette smoking, that predispose them to the disease. Medical screening can help identify people who should not exercise or who should exercise only on a modified program.
For most people, it is safer to exercise than to remain sedentary.
To paraphrase the famous exercise scientist Olaf Astrand: If you don’t want to exercise, you should see a physician to determine if you can withstand the physical deterioration that occurs with the sedentary lifestyle. Men 40 years and older, women 50 years and older, and any person with significant health problems should get a medical examination before beginning a vigorous exercise program. If you are not in one of those categories, there is nothing preventing you from entering a weight-training program. Health problems that need medical evaluation include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke, obesity, and musculo - skeletal disorders.
It is best to choose a physician who is knowledgeable about exercise. Ideally, he or she should have training in exercise physiology or sports medicine, which deals with the medical problems of athletes. Local health clubs, college exercise physiology departments, and medical societies are often good sources for referrals to physicians with knowledge of sports medicine.
If you arc over 40 to 50 (depending on your gender) or have significant health problems, beware of health clubs or fitness classes that offer fitness screening without proper medical supervision. Fitness evaluations by non physicians are not substitutes for a pretraining medical examination, and it could be dangerous to rely on them. Organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association have established guidelines for fitness testing of adults and children. Make sure your club follows these guidelines.