Healthy "U" January Newsletter
How to Start a Safe Exercise Program
by Paul Soong, MD, PhD, Chair, Physical Education Department
Regular physical activity is fun and healthy, and increasingly more people are starting to become more active every day. Being more active is very safe for most people. However, some people should check with their doctor before they start becoming much more physically active.
If you are planning to become much more physically active than you are now, start to answer the seven questions called PAR-Q (physical activity readiness questionnaire).
The PAR-Q was created by the British Columbia Ministry of Health and the Multidisciplinary Board on Exercise. This form was adopted directly from the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) Standards and Guidelines for Health and Fitness Facilities. The PAR-Q has been designed to identify the small number of adults for whom physical activity may be inappropriate or those who should have medical advice concerning the type of activity most suitable for them.
If you are between 15 and 69, the PAR-Q will tell you if you should check with your doctor before you start. If you are over 69 years of age and you are not used to being very active, check with your doctor.
Answer yes or no to the following questions:
1. Has your doctor ever said that you have a heart condition and that you should only do physical activity recommended by a doctor?
2. Do you feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity?
3. In the past month, have you had chest pain when you were not doing physical activity?
4. Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness?
5. Do you have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?
6. Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs (for example, water pills) for your blood pressure or heart condition?
7. Do you know of any other reason why you should not do physical activity?
If you answered yes:
If you answered yes to one or more questions, are older than age 40 and have been inactive or are concerned about your health, consult a physician before taking a fitness test or substantially increasing your physical activity. You should ask for a medical clearance along with information about specific exercise limitations you may have.
In most cases, you will still be able to do any type of activity you want as long as you adhere to some guidelines.
If you answered no:
If you answered no to all the PAR-Q questions, you can be reasonably sure that you can exercise safely and have a low risk of having any medical complications from exercise. It is still important to start slowly and increase gradually. It may also be helpful to have a fitness assessment with a personal trainer or coach in order to determine where to begin.
When to delay the start of an exercise program:
• If you are not feeling well because of a temporary illness, such as a cold or a fever, wait until you feel better to begin exercising.
• If you are or may be pregnant, talk with your doctor before you start becoming more active.
So whether you are able to go full speed ahead or if you need some guidance from your doctor on how to proceed, we are wishing you a healthy, active New Year, in accordance with your current capabilities. You may find that you are having fun and are healthier in just a few weeks committing to being more active for your fitness level.
Mindfulness Meditation - Mondays
Relax and learn stress reduction techniques by meditating with Beth O'Malley in the McHenry Interfaith Prayer Room, Mondays, 12:15-12:45 pm in the Coffman Chapel basement. First Meditation will be Monday, January 27.
Yoga at Hood - Tuesdays
Free yoga classes are provided by Sol Yoga. Beginning January 21, classes meet Tuesdays, 5:15-6:15 pm in the Dance Studio in Gambrill Gymnasium. Because of mid-term recess, there will be no class on March 11. The last class will be Tuesday, April 29.
Hood Walking Group
- Still Walking on Tuesdays
Hood's walking group leaves at noon from the plaza between Alumnae Hall and Hodson. The
group walks for approximately 30 minutes rain or shine. Come on out and join them!