Person lying sick on a couch, wrapped in blankets


In the not too distant past, having a serious respiratory or cardiac condition would result in medical recommendations of mostly rest and a modest ‘be careful’ lifestyle. Of course, caution regarding such issues is always appropriate. However, we know much more now about how exercise changes our body systems than we did in the past. 

In fact, exercise and the numerous benefits it brings have now moved to center stage; and it’s not just preventive powers any longer

For example, Cleveland Clinic advises the following if you have COPD:  

“These symptoms can make exercise a challenge. But whether your COPD is mild, moderate, or severe, regular exercise will not only ease your symptoms. It will also boost your quality of life, says pulmonologist Kathrin Nicolacakis, MD.”

And after a heart attack? 

Wouldn’t a myocardial infarction be reason enough to take it easy and avoid putting any stress on the heart? 

“Patients who were sedentary were more likely to die when they got a myocardial infarction and patients who did exercise were more likely to survive. There was also a dose-response relationship, so that the odds of dying if people got a myocardial infarction declined with the level of exercise they did, reaching an almost 50% reduction for those who were the most physically active.” (Science Daily

ACSM Recommendations 

Within the last year, the American College of Sports Medicine has changed their guidelines regarding exercise recommendations for clients with risk factors. After a thorough investigation of the probable outcomes of at-risk patients and exercise, the recommendation was to decrease mortality by increasing access to the appropriate exercise programs

(from ACSM’s Updated Recommendations for Exercise Preparticipation Health Screening)

The change in the pre-screening process, then, advises physician clearance now, rather than requiring medical testing, as it did before, under certain circumstances. The reason for this is quite simple. If you must get a pre-exercise medical test (which is a poor predictor of potential problems), you’re probably going to decide against getting involved with exercise… exactly what you need the most. 

(Slide used in ACSM webinar regarding recent health screening changes) 

The ACSM guidelines are very clear regarding who must have a medical clearance before engaging in a supervised exercise program. Likewise, the appropriate exercise protocol is also clearly defined by ACSM guidelines: starting always with slow and easy.  

Find an activity you can enjoy… 

Inactivity, as it turns out, has become our major health threat and is, for the most part, bad for you in more significant ways than had been understood before. 

…because you will need it the rest of your life to maintain your good health! 

To Exercise as Your Preventive and Recuperative Medicine

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About The Author

Steven Siemons ACSM CPT's picture

As a lifelong fitness enthusiast and armchair philosopher (BA in Social Science, UC Irvine), Steven communicates his passion for health and wellness with an offbeat slant. It's a lifestyle, he will insist; and fitness is really a journey to find what fits--for you. His personal fitness journey has primarily centered on resistance training for more than fifty years. An intense three-year exposure to Shotokan Karate under Sensei Ray Dalke and Sensei Edmond Otis in Southern California during his thirties (he is now 65, since you're wondering) had a significant impact on his appreciation for the martial arts as fitness disciplines. It is his sincere hope that you will find insight, inspiration, and knowledge from the ideas he sends your way. Find more of his work at The Senior Health and Fitness Blog.

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