8 Questions to Evaluate Your Fitness Level

By Larry Payne, Georg Feuerstein, Sherri Baptiste, Doug Swenson, Stephan Bodian, LaReine Chabut, Therese Iknoian

Many mind-body programs are so gentle that nearly anyone can do them without fear. But to be on the safe side — and that’s always a smart thing when it comes to movement — take a few moments to assess your current fitness and health by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are you currently not exercising regularly?

  • Do you have a personal or family history of heart disease or chest pains, especially before age 50?

  • Do you smoke or have you been a smoker in the in the past two years?

  • Do you have any joint problems such as achiness or stiffness that get worse when you move in certain ways?

  • Do you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar?

  • Are you taking any medications for any of the above conditions that may change the way your body responds to exercise?

  • Are you considered very overweight or obese? (This doesn’t mean those annoying 10 to 15 pounds. If you think you’re overweight, you probably are.)

  • Do you know of any other reason why you shouldn’t do physical activity?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, see a physician before starting an exercise program, especially a program that raises your heart rate and puts any additional stress on your heart or other systems. Even if the program doesn’t raise your heart rate, it may involve bending or twisting that may aggravate your blood pressure or any joint problems that you already have or may be inclined toward; these are also good reasons to be safe with a physician’s visit.

If you don’t answer “yes” to any of these questions but are age 40 or older or haven’t exercised regularly in at least a year, you should still see a physician to check on your overall health and to discuss any medical conditions that may run in your family. If your answer to one of the questions changes to “yes” at any time during your exercise program, you need to see your physician.

Don’t let any of these warnings scare you off from movement! It simply makes good sense to see a physician once a year anyway.