Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you damage your muscles if you start working out all of the sudden?"
I've been out of shape for years, in my early 40's now. I just want to shape-up and look better and feel better about myself. Can I just jump into a workout routine? Could this do damage to my muscles? I haven't had much physical activity for 10 years or so.
First of all, congratulations on deciding to get back into shape! Regular, aerobic exercise is one of the most important things you can do to improve your overall health, especially your cardiovascular health. Generally speaking, it is safe to begin exercising without a lot of risk. However, as we age, the risk of having developed a medical condition, such as a heart problem, since the last time we vigorously exercised starts to go up. Particularly, for men in their 40s, the risk of cardiovascular disease does go up significantly. Therefore, although light exercise is probably fine without much worry, if you wish to start a vigorous aerobic program, it is worth going to see your primary care doctor first. They will perform a complete checkup, with a focus on asking about and looking for any signs of heart problems. If no heart problems are found, they will likely tell you it is ok to go ahead with vigorous aerobic workouts. If you have multiple risk factors for heart disease, they may recommend a stress test first just to make sure. Damage to your muscles is less of a concern than heart disease, although you will probably find that you are stiffer and that you bounce back from workouts less quickly than you did 10 years ago.
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