Monday, April 26, 2010

Consult Before Exercise?

You hear it all the time; “Consult a physician before beginning an exercise routine”. It’s the smart thing to do. You are doing your diligence to consult a physician. But does your physician have a good understanding of what it really means to exercise? Chiropractors, Medical Doctors, and physical therapists are great resources for a variety of ailments. They attend years of schooling to gain a vast education regarding their field of study so that you can have piece of mind when soliciting their advice. Unfortunately, in those years of schooling, it is rare that these doctors are properly educated on exercise techniques. They are hardly exercise physiologists. It is important to choose carefully which professional’s advice you seek when considering an exercise program; they don’t all have the experience necessary to give you specific enough advice.

While this does not always hold true, the first thing to consider about your physician of choice is; does he or she exercise? If the person with whom you are consulting does not exercise regularly, how are they going to relate to you when questions arise regarding your workouts? Understanding the body’s physical response to exercise is one thing, but to understand the experience as an active participant is something totally different. It is okay to ask your doctor if he or she exercises regularly. Tell them you would like to start exercising and that you need someone with exercise knowledge and experience to provide you with the proper advice as to how to go forward with your routine. Also, let your doctor know that it is important to you that you understand how to get the results you expect from exercise. This statement is important because it lets a responsible doctor know that if he or she does not have experience writing exercise programs, his or her best advice is to refer you to someone who does.

Exercise is about much more than just lifting weights and getting your heart rate up. It is imperative that you practice proper form while performing various exercises. It is also important that you do not recklessly elevate your heart rate. Sometimes, working harder is not working smarter and it can be counter productive. As a dually licensed Chiropractor and Personal Trainer, I provide for my patients exercise programs following an extensive fitness assessment. It is impossible to prescribe exercises to a patient without a thorough assessment of their baselines. For many patients who truly want to pursue a lifestyle change for fitness, I often refer to credible Personal Trainers in the community who I know can handle the four to five day per week commitment they will need. Don’t be afraid to talk to a personal trainer at your local gym after you have clearance from your doctor to exercise. Ask the trainer about his or her qualifications; a good question to ask is, “who are you certified through?” ECITS, NASM, and ACSM are all credible certifications to listen for. Ask them if they have experience with someone like your self. Find out if the trainer knows how to accommodate for your injuries before enlisting his or her services. Trainers should be excited to answer your questions, if they seem disinterested, expect the same kind of attention during your training sessions.

Personal Training can be expensive, and maybe you can’t afford it. Asking a trainer’s advice on a gym floor is free. If a trainer in the gym is not with a client, it is in your interest to ask them any questions you might have, and it is in their interest to answer you.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of who you should consult when considering a lifestyle change towards fitness. You have made a great decision and I commend you on it. Now protect yourself before you start. Ask the right questions to the right people, it will help you set goals and expectations. Remember, if it was easy, we would all be fit. You are doing the right thing by starting an exercise program. Just make sure you get the proper advice. If you have any questions or comments regarding this topic please feel free to contact me at my email,

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