January 27, 2013

Don't Ask Your Doctor

I have said it many times myself; “Ask your doctor before starting an exercise program.”, and yes, you should get medical clearance, but do not expect your doctor to give you much guidance on what to do.  In fact, most doctors admit to having little training or much success in helping patients adapt a healthy lifestyle.  A recent study found that only 44% of primary care physicians had any success in helping obese patients lose weight.  Most physicians felt they needed more education in nutrition and exercise to be able to help their patients.
So what does this mean for you?  One biggie is not to assume that your weight is fine if your doctor says nothing about it.  Since they are not prepared to deal with it, many physicians chose not to discuss it.  High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can often be cured by exercising and losing weight, but your doctor may not have training to help with this. It is easier to give a patient a cholesterol-lowering drug than to counsel him or her on lifestyle changes. If your doctor does offer advice to exercise, do not assume that he or she knows current exercise guidelines or standards.
These are some examples of bad advice physicians have given my clients:
·        “Keep your heart rate below 140.”  This to a pregnant client; alluding to a guideline that was updated in 1995.
·        “Do some stretching.”  This to an obese client with diabetes and high cholesterol. Not that stretching is bad, but it will do little to help her lose weight or lower her blood sugar and cholesterol.
·        “Don’t do squats.”  This to a client with torn cartilage who wanted to continue playing tennis.  Squats are the cornerstone of a knee rehab program.
 In sum; take charge of your own health; you do not need a doctor to tell you to lose weight.  If your doctor does offer advice on exercise, get a second opinion.

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