Is It Ever Too Late To Start Exercising?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

If you haven't had a good workout since high school gym class, it's best to visit your doctor before running that marathon next week. Here's what you need to know.

You’re considering joining a gym, starting a water aerobics class, adding jogging to your daily routine. All really great ideas. But, are they the right activities for you? Is it ever too late to start exercising? Of course not, but many things should be considered before jumping in. Everyone can benefit from exercise, but not all forms of exercise are beneficial to all people.

The first step in any exercise plan is to visit your doctor. Have a physical. Bring a list of your medical specialists, medications and health issues of which your primary care physician may not be aware. Talk to your physician about your plans to start exercising and then follow her advice.

What To Measure During A Pre-Exercise Check-Up
  • Circulation

  • Blood Sugar

  • Heart Rate

  • Bone Density

  • Balance

  • Diet Goals
The Six Questions to Ask Your Doctor
    1. What types of exercise do you recommend?

    2. What forms of exercise should I avoid?

    3. What is my resting heart rate? What is my ideal heart rate?

    4. What is my target heart rate after 20 minutes of aerobic activity?

    5. Can I do weight bearing exercise?

    6. Are my fitness goals realistic?

Conditions That Require Special Attention
Discuss all conditions below with your doctor. Report conditions to your workout partners and instructors so they'll be able to respond appropriately in an emergency. Always keep the following in mind:

If you're pregnant, find out, from your doctor, not from your personal trainer, what forms of exercise are appropriate. There are lots of pre-natal yoga and low-impact aerobics classes offered by hospitals, community centers and gyms. Your obstetrician or midwife will know which ones are reputable.

If you're diabetic, monitor blood sugar prior to and during exercise. Carry your insulin and a sugar booster (fruit juice, etc.) with you. Check your feet and legs before and after exercise. Wear diabetic approved socks.

If you have a heart condition and/or poor circulation, wear a heart rate monitor and check it frequently.

If your sense of balance is compromised, or you have low bone density, exercise holding on to support railings.

You’re never too old, too heavy, too thin or too tired. Moderate exercise is great for those conditions. It gives you energy, stamina, muscle tone and a sleeker, healthier look. So, after you’ve received clearance from your physician to take off, get out there and get physical.