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Aerobic Exercise (cont.)

Is aerobic exercise safe?

Though the risks of being sedentary far outweigh the risks of exercise, one should be prudent when beginning an aerobic exercise program. Safety guidelines from the ACSM state that individuals at low or moderate health risk can begin a moderate-intensity exercise plan without a medical exam or exercise stress test, whereas people at high risk should be evaluated by their doctor. You are at high risk if you have:

  • Known cardiovascular, pulmonary, or metabolic (for example, diabetes) disease, including:
  • History of a heart attack
  • If your father or other male first-degree relative died suddenly before 55 years of age from a heart attack or before 65 years of age in your mother or other first-degree female relative
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest, neck, jaw, arms, or other areas that may be due to ischemia (restriction of blood flow to the heart)
  • Shortness of breath at rest or with mild exertion
  • Dizziness or temporary losses of consciousness or posture
  • Ankle swelling (edema)
  • Palpitations (rapid heart beats)
  • Intermittent claudication (pain after mild to moderate exercise that resolves with rest)
  • Known heart murmur
  • Unusual fatigue or shortness of breath with normal activities

Speak with your doctor if you have any question about whether it's safe to start an exercise program.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/23/2016

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