Fitness Program

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Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) and You

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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 by answering the seven questions in the box below. If you are between the ages of 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.

Common sense is your best guide when you answer these questions. Please read the questions carefully and answer each one honestly:

YES NO

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 to one or more questions

Talk to your doctor by phone or in person BEFORE you start becoming much more physically active or BEFORE you have a fitness appraisal. Tell your doctor about the PAR-Q and which questions you answered YES.

  • You may be able to do any activity you want – as long as you start slowly and build up gradually. Or, you may need to restrict your activities to those which are safe for you. Talk with your doctor about the kinds of activities you wish to participate in and follow his/her advice.
  • Find out which community programs are safe and helpful for you.
NO to all questions

If you answered NO honestly to all PAR-Q questions, you can be reasonably sure that you can:

  • Start becoming much more physically active – begin slowly and build up gradually. This is the safest and easiest way to go.
  • Take part in a fitness appraisal – this is an excellent way to determine your basic fitness so that you can plan the best way for you to live actively.

Delay becoming much more active:

  • If you are not feeling well because of a temporary illness such as a cold or a fever – wait until you feel better; or
  • If you are or may be pregnant – talk to your doctor before you start becoming more active.
Please note: If your health changes so that you then answer YES to any of the above questions, tell your fitness or health professional. Ask whether you should change your physical activity plan.

Exercise Safety Guidelines

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Regular physical activity is vital for good health. While there is a risk of injury with any type of physical activity, the benefits of staying active far outweigh the risks. You can obtain information and advice about exercise safety from your doctor, a sports medicine doctor, physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist or see a sporting association about sporting technique and equipment.

You can reduce your risk of exercise injury by following these recommendations:

Listen to your body

Injuries are more likely if you ignore your body’s signals of fatigue, discomfort and pain. Suggestions include:

  • See your doctor for a full medical check-up before embarking on any new fitness program.
  • Cross-train with other sports and exercises to reduce the risk of overtraining.
  • Make your exercise program progressive-Respect your current fitness level by starting an exercise program at a pace and duration that you know you can maintain. Increase intensity and duration gradually.
  • Make sure you have at least one recovery day, and preferably two, every week.
  • Injuries need rest – trying to ‘work through’ the pain will cause more damage to soft muscle tissue and delay healing.
  • If you have a pre-existing injury or an area that is prone to injury, consult your doctor or physiotherapist before starting. Rehabilitation exercises may help to strengthen the injured area or you may be advised to strap it prior to exercising to provide support.

Stop what are you doing

If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop exercising and seek medical help:

  • Feel discomfort or pain
  • Have chest pain or other pain that could indicate a heart attack, including pain in the neck and jaw, pain travelling down the arm or pain between the shoulder blades
  • Experience extreme breathlessness
  • Develop a rapid or irregular heartbeat during exercise
  • Joint pain persisting after more than three days of rest

Stress Injury

Many physical activities have the potential for creating cumulative damage to muscles and joints. By nature, physical activity presents a stress to the body in the form of physical resistance and/or impact. Repeated stress can result in microscopic tears within the muscles as well as inflammation of tendons and joint surfaces. This damage usually announces itself by way of joint swelling and/or pain in the knees, feet, shoulders, or other joints. If the damage is mild the body is able to make repairs, given there is time allowed for healing. More severe damage and inflammation occurs when time between stresses is not adequate to allow healing. Chronic pain, inflammation, and scarification is the result.

Cool Down and warm up

  • As the name suggests, your warm-up (5–10 minutes) should gradually warm your muscles and body temperature.
  • The type of activity done in the warm-up should include major muscle groups that will be used in your sporting activity.
  • Your warm-up could begin with a low intensity activity such as brisk walking or jogging.
  • Stretching should be performed once the muscles have been warmed, as the stretching of cold muscles is less effective. It is also important to stretch after activity as well to assist recovery.
  • To reduce muscle soreness and stiffness
  • In the last 5 minutes, slow down gradually to a light jog or brisk walk.
  • Finish off with 5–10 minutes of stretching (emphasize the major muscle groups you have used during your activity).

Right equipment

Most sports and exercises rely on some type of equipment, such as shoes, bicycles or racquets. Protective equipment – such as mouth guards, shin pads and helmets – can significantly reduce the risk of injury by absorbing the impact of falls or collisions. Safety suggestions include:

  • If your sporting equipment is handheld, make sure you are using the right grip – for example, holding a tennis racquet the wrong way can increase your risk of tennis elbow (tendonitis).
  • Make sure your equipment is appropriate to your sport or activity and the size and age of the participant.
  • Wear appropriate shoes for your sport and replace them before they wear out.
  • Protective equipment should be worn during training, not just for competition and games.
  • Check equipment regularly and replace if worn out. If you are unsure how to maintain or check your equipment, consult with your coach or sporting association.
  • Injuries can also be caused by improper form or technique. Consult your gym instructor, coach, sporting association, exercise physiologist or physiotherapist for instruction on how to improve your sporting technique.

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