Exercise Precautions For Some Common Health Conditions

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Exercise Precautions For Some Common Health Conditions

The past few months have seen a spurt of exercise videos and instructions exploding across various digital media and apps. While there is no denying the benefits of exercise as a preventive and coping mechanism, it is wise to be aware of red flags and keep a few precautions in mind while exercising with health conditions.

Here are some pointers for exercising with 3 Common Health Issues. Keep in mind that exercise precautions are designed to help people avoid problems that can result from unwise exercise choices. Owing to the fact that ignorance won’t feel like bliss.

Do note that it’s always recommended to get your doctor’s clearance before beginning any exercise program with an existing health condition. The guidelines below are general as prescribed/accepted by various medical associations. you are advised to follow any protocol (Do’s & Don’ts) that are best suited for you personally, under professional and/or medical guidance.



People with diabetes should exercise to regulate blood sugar levels. They can do a lot of what others can. A few important points to remember, especially if on medication and/or insulin:

  1. Monitor blood sugar levels before and after exercise: This is important because exercise causes blood sugar levels to drop. Sometimes, the drop may be big and/or sudden leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) causing the person to feel dizzy, pass out or hurt themselves. Exercise may sometimes mask the symptoms of hypoglycemia because one is sweating and the heart is beating fast while exercising. One can adjust for the blood sugar drop by adjusting insulin and/or having a recommended snack before or during the exercise, as prescribed.
  2. For those with Retinopathy (eye disease) with Diabetes: Do not strain or lift very heavy weights. Exercises, where the head is at the level or below the heart level, are not recommended. These can raise blood pressure and increase pressure in the eyes, which can be dangerous. For example, Bench press, especially the inclined bench press – is not advisable. Standing exercises, with proper breathing form, are safer to perform and recommended.
  3. For those with Peripheral Neuropathy (Nerve Damage) in the feet:  If there is little or no feeling in the feet, walking/running on treadmills is not recommended. One can stumble and fall. Barefoot running or barefoot impact workouts aren’t recommended. The possibility of developing blisters becomes high. Proper footwear is preferred. People with diabetes are always advised to pay attention to the health of their feet since they are prone to problems and have slower healing. Diabetics, particularly those who also have vascular disease, should check their feet carefully after exercise to make sure that there is no blistering.


Hypertension / High Blood Pressure

Regular workouts can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, moderation and exercising with a few precautions are in order:

  1. Avoid sudden and/or excessive or competitive bursts of exercise as it can raise blood pressure suddenly and dangerously high for those with hypertension. For best results, be consistent, targeting 4 times a week or even daily (20-30 minutes each time or up to safe capacity), but be moderate in choice of exercise and intensity. All the more important, if starting out with exercising or changing exercise patterns.
  2. Use weights carefully. If suffering from uncontrolled hypertension ( ≥ 140/90 mmHg) do not lift weights. If your doctor gives consent, use moderate or low weights, and start by one set of 10-15 reps. Never hold breath while lifting. Exhale when lifting or exerting effort.
  3. Avoid caffeine a few hours prior to exercising. It may cause a spike in blood pressure. Exercise raises the heart rate anyway, so avoiding caffeine 3-4 hours before working out may help prevent an unwanted spike.



While people with a controlled thyroid condition can exercise like other people, a few exercising precautions are important for those whose condition is not being properly controlled.

  1. Exercising with uncontrolled hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid causing lowered metabolism and lowered heart rate) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid causing significantly increased metabolism and increased heart rate) can be risky since both conditions impact exercise tolerance. A doctor’s advice is essential whether to start an exercise and at what intensity.
  2. Be mindful of the impact of medication/dosage on heart rate and adjust exercise intensity accordingly. Keep your coach informed.
  3. Do not consume any supplements without your doctor’s consent as some ingredients may interfere with medication.

Understanding your underlying health condition and adapting exercise accordingly will help you stay safe, stay healthy, and manage the disease better.


About Vani Pahwa

Vani B. Pahwa is Health & Wellness Evangelist, and Founder, Body In Motion, who specializes in Functional-Fitness, and Cancer Exercise & Rehabilitation. With almost 2 decades of experience, and certifications from leading internationally-accredited and globally-recognized fitness institutions, Vani is the leading Wellness Expert for Multinational Corporations and is a recognized Speaker and Coach. An Indian Classical Dancer, Vani encompasses her learnings from dance to everyday movement making “exercise and training for life, not just events.” To know more about Vani and her premium wellness services, visit


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