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Myth or Fact: Should You See Doctor Before Starting a New Exercise Routine?

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The benefits of regular exercise are countless: improved memory, cardiovascular health, weight control and more.

With so many health benefits, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and jump right into a new exercise routine. If you haven’t exercised in a long time, have health issues, or are not sure where to start, it might be a good idea to see a doctor first.

Find out if you should see a doctor before starting a new health, fitness, or exercise routine.

How to Get the Benefits of Exercise

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) has set activity guidelines for every age group (you can find them here).

Adults aged 18-64, should aim for a minimum of 150-minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week, in increments of 10-minutes or more.

CSEP also suggests mixing in muscle and bone strengthening exercises 2-days a week.

Exercise is Safe for Most People

In most cases, a moderate increase in physical activity does not pose a health risk.

Moderate aerobic activity like brisk walking should be fine for most people. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for Exercise Pre-participation Health Screening notes that:

  • Exercise is safe for most people
  • The benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks
  • Exercise-related cardiovascular events often have prior warning signs/symptoms 
  • Risks associated with exercise decrease as fitness/activity levels increase

When to See Your Doctor

Whether or not you should see a doctor for a health screening before starting a new exercise routine depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Your current activity level
  • Your desired level of activity
  • Symptoms of cardiovascular, metabolic or renal issues
  • You have a Preexisting condition such as:
    • Heart, kidney, or lung disease
    • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
    • Asthma
    • Current or recent cancer treatment

If you’re unsure if you should see a doctor before starting or increasing your exercise routine, CSEP has created a questionnaire to help guide you, here

How Physiotherapy Can Help

Physiotherapists are trained to treat musculoskeletal issues, that’s issues and conditions affecting the muscles, bones, and nerves. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort that’s stopping you from meeting your exercise goals, a qualified pt Health physiotherapist can work with you to develop a treatment plan to address your unique issues, book your assessment today.




American College of Sports Medicine. (2015). ACSM Releases New Recommendations for Exercise Preparticipation Health Screening. Retrieved from

Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. (2017). Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. Retrieved from

Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. (2017). Get Active Questionnaire. Retrieved from

Harvard Medical School (n.d.). Do you Need to See a Doctor Before Starting Your Exercise Program?. Healthbeat. RRetrievedfrom

Riebe, D., Franklin, B., Thompson, P., Garber, C., Whitfield, C., Magal, M. and Pescatello, L. (2015). Updating ACSM’s Recommendations for Exercise Preparticipation Health Screening. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 47(11), pp.2473-2479.


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