Getting a Medical Clearance for Running

Should I Visit the Doctor Before I Start Running?

Hispanic doctor talking to patient
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If you're new to running, getting a physical exam from your doctor should be a bigger priority than choosing a good pair of running shoes. A visit with your doctor is especially critical if any of these issues apply:

  • You've been sedentary for a year or more.
  • You don't currently exercise and are over age 65.
  • You have been diagnosed with heart trouble.
  • You're pregnant.
  • You're overweight
  • You're a current or former smoker.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have a family history of heart disease.
  • You have chest pain, especially when exerting yourself.
  • You often feel faint or have severe dizzy spells.
  • You have another medical condition.

What to Ask Your Doctor About Running

At your doctor's visit, share your running plan and goals with your doctor and have him/her assess your plan and any potential health issues. Ask how running might affect any existing conditions. If you have had any injuries in the past, make sure your doctor is aware of them and ask if he or she has any suggestions on how to prevent a recurrence. Find out about any health issues that are common for runners and how to steer clear of them. Let your doctor know if you're also trying to lose weight.

Your exam should include an exercise stress test (usually done on a treadmill) to rule out any latent cardiovascular problems that might surface if you exercise too hard.

Once you start running regularly, keep scheduling yearly physicals to ensure that you're still in good health.

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