Weight a Minute

(A Questionnaire for People Aged 15 to 69)

Regular physical activity is fun and healthy, and more people are starting to become increasingly active every day. Being more active is very safe for most people. However, some people should check with their doctor before they start becoming 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: check YES or NO.

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 with your doctor by phone or in person BEFORE you start to become 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 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.



>- 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.

Informed use of the PAR-Q: The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, Health Canada, and their agents assume no liability for persons who undertake physical activity, and if in doubt after completing this questionnaire, consult your doctor prior to physical activity.

NOTE: If the PAR-Q is being given to a person before he or she participates in a physical activity program or a fitness appraisal, this section may be used for legal or administrative purposes.

I have read, understood and completed this questionnaire. Any questions I had were answered to my full satisfaction.

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Most people over the age of 50 or so are concerned about heart disease, and for good reason. Heart attacks and strokes remain the single biggest killer in the United States. Because exercising puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels, you need to be especially careful to make sure your cardiovascular system is in good working order. Here are the risk factors for coronary artery disease set forth by the American College of Sports Medicine. See where you stack up under any of the following categories:

> Age. Men over the age of 45; women over 55, or who have premature menopause without estrogen replacement therapy.

>- A family history of heart attacks or strokes. Or sudden death of your father (or another close male relative) before the age of 55. Ditto for your mother (or close female relative) before the age of 65. Genes are powerful, so don't stick your head in the sand if your family's history is sketchy. Go get checked out.

>- Cigarette smoking. Anyone who can read knows smoking contributes to lung cancer, heart disease, and a host of other physical problems. We'll spare you the lecture, but if you smoke and want to work out, see your doctor before you launch a fitness regimen. Of course, it's better to work out and smoke than to just smoke, but our guess is that the more you get into the gym, the less you'll suck the cigarettes.

> Hypertension. While exercise is one of the best antidotes for this condition, often curing the condition without the need for medication, you'll need to make sure that you're not stressing an already stressed-out circulatory system. See the doc if you've got any doubts.

>- High Cholesterol. There are volumes written about good and bad cholesterol—what's high, what's low, what's dangerous, and what's not. While your doctor can tell you what's best for you, a good rule of thumb is: If your total cholesterol is over 200 mg/dl or if your HDL or "good cholesterol" is below 35 mg/dl, you are considered at risk. (For the record, mg/dl means milligrams per deciliter.) Again, exercise will have a beneficial effect in increasing your HDL but make sure you're not an egg yolk away from doing yourself serious harm.

> Diabetes mellitus. The connection between diabetes and heart disease is well known, so if you've been insulin-dependent for more than 15 years, or are over the age of 30 with diabetes, you're considered at risk. The same is true of those noninsulin-dependent diabetics over 35.

> Physical inactivity. If your job keeps you pasted to your seat most of the day, or if the most arduous thing you've done in a year or more is play badminton at the company picnic, you're considered at risk if you engage in strenuous physical activity.

These risk factors don't mean that you shouldn't or can't work out, but you should exercise a little extra caution before you get started. And the first step you should take should be to the doctor's office.

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