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“Shortness of Breath during exercise: O.K or not?”

 
ask-the-doctor
As members of the MAX, we have all decided to put our health at a premium and work to make beneficial healthy changes for our bodies. At MAX, there are individuals of all levels of fitness.
 
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, to attain the cardiac benefits from exercise, the exercise should be
– At least 3 times per week for at least a 12 week duration
– At least 30 minutes per session (can be broken up into 3 ten minute sessions)
– Performed at an individual’s perceived intensity of 13-15 on a scale of 6-20 (the Borg Exertion scale) or at a level of “somewhat hard to hard”.
 
Some of the most common benefits of exercise include:
– Improved exercise tolerance
– When Exercise and Diet is combined:
o Improved Lipid (fat) and Lipoprotein (fat/protein) levels
o Decreased blood pressure
– Stress Reduction
– Improved Psychological well-being
 
One important question, especially among beginning exercisers and those returning to exercise after a long hiatus, is “Is this safe for me?”
 
Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes and it is important to be aware of these factors when deciding on your exercise regimen. Some risk factors are modifiable and can improve with exercise and diet, while others are fixed risks. Some common risk factors are:
– High Blood pressure (hypertension)
– Diabetes
– Elevated Cholesterol or abnormal lipid (fat) profile
– Family history of heart disease or strokes
– Smoking
– Sleep Apnea
– Abdominal Obesity
 
According to Dr. Baggish, the Associate Director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital, “ Everyone can do a form of exercise, if it is done carefully, with the supervision of a doctor”. If you are starting the MAX with a significant number of risk factors, it is important to first be evaluated by your Primary care Physician or Cardiologist for clearance to begin an exercise regimen. In general, it is important to “start low and go slow”. Even just doing brisk walking does provide substantial improvement in overall health.
 
When beginning with the MAX it is perfectly ok to march in place throughout class as this may be significantly more exertion then you are used to consistently. Try to do exercises with modifications first and increase your intensity as tolerated. Sudden start and stop exercises can put extra stress on the heart, especially if you are normally sedentary so it is important to all yourself a cool down period after exercising.
 
SYMPTOMS occurring during exercise that can require immediate attention are:
– Left sided chest pain
– Pain radiating into the jaw or down the left arm
– Significant shortness of breath that does not quickly improve with rest
– Dizziness
– Sensation of an irregular heartbeat or pounding in the chest
– Nausea or indigestion (usually Gastrointestinal related but can be a sign of
heart issues)
 
In addition, if you suffer from chronic shortness of breath with minimal to no exertion, or from swelling in both legs, this can indicate issues with the hearts ability to pump. It is important to note that individuals with diabetes, especially females, may not always have the “classic” symptoms for heart issues. Vague complaints, flu-like symptoms and/or indigestion may be the only symptoms. Or you may have none at all.
 
If you suffer from any of the above listed symptoms, it is crucial to be evaluated to make certain that you are not putting your self at risk during exercise.
 
While it might seem overwhelming to embark on lifestyle changes, especially if you have some or all of the above symptoms, it is important to realize that following the MAX diet, will beneficially modify your risk factors. Closely following all phases of the diet, most likely improve your lipid (fat profile), decrease your insulin resistance, reduce the fat around your belly, lower your blood pressure and increase your ability to exercise.
 
Disclaimer. The information provided here is not intended to substitute for medical care and should not be used for treatment or diagnosis. If you have, or suspect you have a problem concerning your health please consult with a licensed healthcare professional.
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