Take the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q)

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If you want to start an exercise program or are currently exercising and want to make your routine more intense, the physical activity readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q) is a good place to start. It can help you decide if you are able to do so safely or if you might need a trip to your physician to make sure you don't push beyond your own limit.

The PAR-Q was created by the British Columbia Ministry of Health and the Multidisciplinary Board on Exercise. This form has been endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

What Is the PAR-Q?

The PAR-Q is a simple self-screening tool that is typically used by fitness trainers or coaches to determine the safety or possible risks of exercising based on your health history, current symptoms, and risk factors. It also can help a trainer create an ideal exercise prescription for a client.

All the questions are designed to help uncover any potential health risks associated with exercise. The most serious potential risk of intense exercise is that of a heart attack or other sudden cardiac event in someone with undiagnosed heart conditions.

While the PAR-Q is not a complete medical history, the questions aim to uncover heart, circulatory, balance, medical, emotional, and joint problems that could make exercise difficult, or even dangerous, for some people.

Who Should Take the PAR-Q?

The PAR-Q can and should be used by anyone who is planning to start an exercise program and make it stick, whether on their own or with the assistance of a trainer or instructor. It's also recommended for those looking to boost the intensity of their current exercise routine.

Although being physically active is generally safe, some people should check with their doctors before they increase their current level of activity. The PAR-Q is 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.

As useful as these questionnaires are, some underlying cardiac issues—particularly those in young athletes—can only safely be diagnosed by more invasive testing, including an electrocardiogram (ECG) and an echocardiogram. Still, this simple questionnaire has a place in screening most adults for obvious exercise safety risks.

What Are the PAR-Q Questions?

The PAR-Q contains only seven yes or no questions, making it quick and easy to take. These questions are:

  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?

PAR-Q Results

Your answers to these questions can help determine your readiness to begin an exercise program or to ramp up your current program's intensity.

If You Answered Yes

If you answer yes to one or more PAR-Q questions, the next step is to take the PAR-Q+, which is a series of 10 follow-up questions. These more in-depth questions ask about whether you have specific health conditions, such as arthritis and cancer.

Answer yes to any of these and it is recommended that you consult a physician before taking a fitness test or substantially increasing your physical activity. Ask for 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.

When to Delay 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.

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.

Keep in mind that if your health changes so that you then answer "Yes" to any of the PAR-Q questions, tell your fitness or health professional. You may need to change your physical activity plan.

A Word From Verywell

Exercise is generally considered safe (and beneficial) for almost everyone, though some people may need to take a few precautions. The PAR-Q and PAR-Q+ can help you identify whether you should see a doctor before beginning or ramping up an exercise program.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Warburton DE, Jamnik VK, Bredin SS, et al. Evidence-based risk assessment and recommendations for physical activity clearance: An introduction. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011;36 Suppl 1:S1-2. doi:10.1139/h11-060

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.