Fitness is in. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans wants people to sit-less and move more – all movement counts! Apparently so do many Americans as health club memberships are at an all-time high. Major health and fitness organizations from the American Heart Association to Zumba (a to z, get it?) want you to be part of the movement (movement, get it?). But where does one start? You could simply stop reading this and go for a walk and that would be great. But if you want more, read on about the Get Active – PAR-Q.
On getting started
For people looking to start a formal planned exercise program, most shouldn’t have to seek approval from their doctor for moderate intensity exercise. However, for some, there may be reasons to get checked out before you hit the gym. That’s where the Get Active – PAR-Q comes in handy (you’ll find a link to the form below – but keep reading!)
The PAR-Q is short for the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire. This tool can be filled out by you to see if consulting with a doctor makes sense before pumping iron or getting on the Stairmaster. I look at as kind of a quiz. A series of short questions however it has no score, so there’s no “pass or fail”. It simply indicates if it’s prudent to seek medical advice before jumping into that fitness program you’ve been thinking about.
How does the Get Active – PAR-Q work?
The PAR-Q is simple. It has 9-questions which will help determine if you should seek medical advice before you start an exercise program. If you answer yes to any of the questions on the PAR-Q you should see your doctor before you hit the gym. The second part of the form will help you assess your current physical activity levels and provide some basic tips on how to get active.
In fact, many fitness centers will use this (and other tools) to prescreen people to make sure they start their fitness program safely and effectively. One thing, the PAR-Q is designed for people 15 – 69 years old. If you’re older it may be a good idea to ask your medical professional for advice on getting started.
What if you answer no to all the questions?
If you honestly answer no to all the questions you should always start your exercise program slowly and gradually. Giving your body time to adjust to the new activities you’re doing will reduce your risk of injury and increase the pleasure. Remember, fitness should be fun! Even if you answered no to all the questions if you start having any pain that is suggestive of heart or other problems while exercising stop and seek medical attention. Also, delay starting your program if you’re not feeling well.
One last thing.
If you are joining a gym, consider having a fitness assessment done by a qualified fitness professional. This can help a fitness professional give you recommendations on the FITT-VP for your exercise program. That beats spending the first weeks walking around the center wondering what to do.
You can find the Get active / PAR-Q here.
And by the way happy exercise!