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Do you really have to talk to your doctor before exercising?

Although exercise-induced death is rare, more common is death caused by a sedentary lifestyle.

August 24, 2009|Jeannine Stein

Practically every article about exercise contains some version of this caveat: Talk to your doctor before embarking on any fitness regimen.

A study in the August issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggests such caution may be excessive. Researchers from Israel and the United States determined that although screenings could prevent deaths in people who fall into the intermediate to high-risk groups, the same wasn't true for those at low risk.

They argue that although exercise-induced death is rare, more common is death caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Also, coronary disease screenings could produce false negative or false positive results, possibly preventing people from exercising.

In the study, the authors wrote, "If screening [an exercise tolerance test] is unsatisfactory for preventing exercise-induced cardiac events, other modalities should be explored, such as promoting public education about the need for gradual initiation of physical activity and about alarming symptoms (including through [the posting of] signs at gyms), while improving the availability of semi-automatic defibrillators and personnel trained in life support at sports facilities."

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jeannine.stein@latimes.com

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