Common fitness and health questions answered by a doctor

This post is sponsored by Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care. Thanks for supporting!

Hi, my friends! I hope your week is going well. 

So today, we’re doing something a little bit different on the ol’ blog. My friends at Dignity Health, which is a huge health care system in the Bay Area, reached out to me to let me know that they have partnered on a new urgent care location with GoHealth Urgent Care, called the Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, and it’s the ninth urgent care center to open in the San Francisco Bay Area. They wanted to share some health tips in conjunction with that news, and I was intrigued. Truthfully, I didn’t know much about urgent care centers, as I haven’t been to one in many years, and as we started talking about those centers as well as the medical field, I thought it would be fun to get a chance to ask questions to a doctor related to fitness and health. Because, even though we trainers know the ins and outs of creating a safe fitness program, doctors have an entirely different set of knowledge based on what they see every day.

And for most of us who don’t work in the medical field, we have some questions …

Common fitness and health questions answered by a doctor

I submitted a whole host of questions to the Dignity Healthy-GoHealth Urgent Care folks and got back quite a few answers that I thought you guys might want to know. Thank you to Dr. Kyle Lennon from Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, who specializes in sports medicine and provided his input, and you can find MY comments in parenthesis after each answer.

  • What are the most common fitness-related injuries and ailments that you see come into your office? 

The most common fitness-related injuries are usually due to overuse. These ailments include muscle strains and tendinitis.

(People, don’t drive yourself to an overuse injury. I’ve done it, we’ve all done it, and it’s totally preventable. Take a regular rest day, have some lighter days and switch up your workout routine. Also, having better and proper form when you work out will help to keep your muscular alignment in check, which can also help you avoid injuries as well. For instance, in a squat, your knees should always be pointing in the direction of your toes. And you can help your alignment and form by warming up properly before each workout.)

Foam rolling at the gym by A Lady Goes West

  • How can someone tell if they are just sore from a workout or have pulled a muscle and need to seek medical help?

It is normal to experience some muscle soreness, especially after strenuous exercise. If you experience muscle swelling, severe pain or even dark urine, you should seek medical attention right away. Also, pain that doesn’t improve after a few days may be a sign of a more serious injury. 

(Speaking of soreness, it’s totally okay to do a hard workout and NOT get sore. That doesn’t mean you didn’t do anything beneficial. Sometimes, you just won’t get sore. But if you do wake up super stiff, try walking around and stretching for a bit to loosen up. If your stiffness is combined with sickness or any of the symptoms mentioned above, you may need to seek professional help.)

  • If someone believes that they pulled a muscle during a tough workout, what should they do to soothe it at home?

Rest. Then ice the area for 20 minutes, every few hours, for 1 to 2 days. Compression can also be helpful.

(And yes, you should skip your next workout if you have a major muscle pain. It’s just not worth risking more damage, which could keep you out of the gym for a long time.)

  • Are there any medications that can affect someone’s ability to work out? If so, which ones and how?

A lot of over-the-counter medications, such as allergy and cough medicine, can make you drowsy, so it is best to avoid those medications while working out. It is also best to avoid decongestants while exercising, in order to prevent dangerous elevations in your blood pressure and to decrease the risk of heat illness. 

(This is why trainers always ask if you are taking any medication. It’s important to get all of that information out there to the people who are trying to help you achieve your fitness and wellness goals. Don’t lie to your trainer, and don’t lie to your doctor either … or your friends or parents for that matter … I mean, don’t lie at all.) 🙂

  • How can someone who often works out in public places avoid getting sick?

To avoid getting sick while working out in a public place you should always wash your hands and wipe down the equipment before and after use.

(As a polite gym member, hopefully you are already wiping down the equipment that you use with the spray and towels provided by the gym after your workout — don’t just wipe it down with your sweat towel. But this tip suggests wiping the equipment before your use as well, which is probably a good idea. The same goes for gym mats and foam rollers. I like to bring my own roller (here’s my fave) just because of the nature of how we use it, and I always recommend that as well. With weights and weight machines, gloves are a good idea, as long as you frequently wash your gloves (here are my fave). Oh, and don’t touch your face, nose or eyes, if your hands are dirty from gym equipment — that’s just a given.)

  • What should parents know about keeping their kiddos well in the hot summer months when they are playing outdoors?

The two best ways to prepare your kids for hot summer months are to apply sunscreen every two hours and to keep them hydrated. Swimming is a great way to stay cool.

(For the hydration thing, this goes for EVERYONE. Most of us should be drinking more water, and during the heat of the summer, we should increase that even more. Our bodies are mostly made up of water, but we lose water through sweat during the day, so we have to be compensating with extra drinking. So you may as well bring a water bottle with you. Here’s my fave.)

Playing outside by A Lady Goes West

  • What do you see as the most beneficial form of exercise for women? What about for men? And why?

Both men and women should perform some form of cardiorespiratory exercise most days of the week.  Resistance training should also be performed at least twice a week.

(This advice he gives is the standard from the American Heart Association, and I’d like to take it a step further. Men and women need a mix of cardio, strength AND flexibility over the course of the week. And when I say strength, that can include lifting weights, using a resistance tube or even using your own bodyweight for strength work like push-ups and pull-ups, for at least two sessions of 20 minutes. Moral of the story, don’t get stuck in a cardio-only rut, and make sure you diversify your weekly movement patterns and don’t sit too much. If you want to know how to create a great week of workouts, sign up for my email list and enjoy the free gift download with much more information on the topic.)

  • If someone feels sick, should they still work out? How can you decide if you should rest or work out?

If you have a fever, you should not work out. Generally, it is safe to work out with a “cold,” but if you have chest congestion or shortness of breath, exercise should be avoided until you feel better.

(Do what the doctor says — sometimes, you can power through, and other times, you should take a break.)

  • What are your thoughts on juice cleanses and detoxes? Are they beneficial? Who is a good candidate for them and why?

I do not typically recommend juice cleanses or detoxes, because they are temporary. In my opinion, committing yourself to eating healthy every day makes more sense — avoiding processed foods and increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables is a good way to start.

(Amen. I’m not a registered dietitian, but I’ve never been a fan of anything that has detox or cleanse in the title. Our bodies naturally cleanse themselves, especially if you drink enough water, exercise, sleep and eat plenty of fruits and veggies. No need for extremes, people. Eat healthy food.)

Healthy salad lunch by A Lady Goes West

That’ll do it for the question portion. Here’s a bit more information I learned from the Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care team …

What’s an urgent care and why should you go

Not having used an urgent care center recently or an emergency room ever in my life (knocking on wood so many times), I wasn’t really familiar with what each place should be used for. According to the folks at Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care, you can be treated for many common ailments at their centers, as well as a few slightly more serious things that don’t warrant a trip to a busy ER. And they take all kinds of medical insurance, walk-ins and appointments.

For instance, here’s what urgent care centers treat: allergies, cough, cold, mild fever, cuts, stitches, dehydration, diarrhea, ear ache, rash, sore throat, sprain or strain, UTIs, vomiting, insect bites and more. However, if you have any issues relating to your pregnancy, chest pain, seizures or difficult bleeding, head straight to the hospital or ER. 

Good to know!

San Francisco Bay Area Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care locations

My Bay Area friends, we are lucky to have nine Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care centers in our region. The locations are as follows: Castro, Cole Valley, Excelsior, Glen Park, Lower Pacific Heights, Marina, North Beach, Redwood City and the newest in Daly City. 

You can visit the Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care site to see the exact addresses of each location, as well as the wait times here

Hope you learned something new, my friends! Be safe out there. Hydrate. Rest when needed and consult your doctor if you’re in doubt. 

Have a fab day, my friends! I’ll see you back here soon for some fun stuff!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care. While I received compensation, all the thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support A Lady Goes West.

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Questions of the day

How is your week going?

What’s your number-one summer safety tip?

What other questions would you want to ask a doctor?



  1. On marathon day, I know the ER deals with a lot of hyponutremia or overhydration (aka too little sodium in the blood) from people taking in too much water and not enough salt.
    And don’t get me (or Alex) started on cleanses and detoxes!

    1. Hi Susie! YESSSS — I think that cyclists also have that issue of drinking too much water, I think the answers is to add some sea salt into your water if I recall. And NO on detoxes. Just no, people. 🙂 hehhehe! You have your own doctor to ask questions too, lucky girl!

    1. Hi Emily! Totally! And it’s even better when a doctor understands your workout routine. In fact, when I tried a new doctor in SF one time, she recognized me because she had taken my BODYPUMP class. So funny! hahahah! Almost weird though.

  2. Going to an urgent care is also helpful for minor injuries or if something didn’t heal right. When I sprained my foot, I went to the hospital and was told I should be pain free within a week. That week went and I still had pain so we went to an urgent care to see if I had really sprained my foot or broken it. Apparently a broken bone in the foot can sometimes not show up on the first x-ray.

    Have a great day 🙂

    1. Hi Maureen! Oh no! I hope your food has recovered since then. Getting misdiagnosed is NO fun at all. But glad that the urgent care helped get things on the right track. Hope you have a good day, lady!

  3. Ok this is sooo cool! 🙂 I’m so thankful that they recommended both resistance and cardio. I used to be a cardio only junkie, but God humbled me a lot because I had so much pride about my running. I got injured and tired, and it affected my period, so I had to cut back on all the intense cardio. Now I really love weight lifting. 🙂 Also their advice about taking rest days in order to prevent overuse injuries was so good!

    1. Hi Emily! Yessssss ma’am — resistance training and rest days are key! I also used to only do cardio a long time ago, and that just wasn’t doing my body any favors. We learn as we grow though, right, lady? 🙂

  4. Anytime I’m feeling sick I always go into an urgent care, they’re so much faster than trying to make an appointment at a doctors office.

    I would love to ask a doctor about multi vitamins, I’m actually seeing mine this week and will discuss with her. I’ve read so many articles stating certain vitamins and minerals that are beneficial and other articles that say you should get these nutrients from real food. Such a confusing topic!

    1. Hi Patricia! That’s a great question. I know that it’s ideal to get all of the nutrients from your food, because you don’t want to rely on the vitamins, but they won’t hurt you and are a good way to make sure you are getting what you need in addition to your diet. No matter what the issue, there will always be different opinions! Do what feels right to you! 🙂

  5. So interesting hearing a doctor’s perspective on fitness and health! I’d say my number one summer safety tip (I’m a runner, so mostly as it applies to running outdoors) would be to listen to your body. The summer months can get sooo hot and you’ve gotta be careful when doing strenuous exercise outside. Knowing and listening to your limits is a must. I think it’s always a tough question when deciding if you should work out when you’re not feeling well/are actually sick. I’ve heard about people working out to “break their fevers,” but I agree with the doctor. I don’t think you should workout with a fever. Especially if you go to a gym! Getting other people sick is not cool.


    1. Hi Meah! TOTALLY agree with you on listening to your body. I think sometimes it’s hard for people to know when they are pushing the right way or pushing too hard when they shouldn’t. Hot workouts outside are scary too — that’s why I like to keep it indoors hehehe!

  6. I love clinics. We have one on site at work (free of charge) and have visited it several times for UTIs, strep throat, sinus infections, as well as needed shots for travel abroad. I try to visit it when I can to save money, but a couple years ago I got a few red ant bites on my foot and had an allergic reaction (I couldn’t wear any shoes!). It was convenient and they remedied the issue fairly quickly. Interesting post!

    1. Hi Amanda! That’s so awesome you have a clinic on site at work — we had one at Disney back in the day, when I worked there in Orlando in the corporate offices. Take advantage of your perks! Sorry to hear about the red ants. Ouch ahhah! 🙂 Hope you’re extra careful where you walk now!

  7. Great article! I was always trying to rush to gym when I was mildly sick, like only a fever but it was an mistake. You should let your body just rest!

  8. I’m an ER nurse and there are SO MANY THING people could go to the urgent care for instead of the ER! I think it’s really just due to lack of education though and people not knowing about urgent cares of when they should go. I’ve had to hit up urgent cares for UTIs a few times recently on weekends or if I’ve been out of town, and they are so fast and so cheap compared to the ER! I think REST DAYS are super important and my safety tip! I’m in a fitness group of moms who are trying to get in shape, and you would not believe how many don’t take ANY rest days for fear of losing their motivation. After having injuries, I wish they knew how much it’ll set them back when they can an injury and anybody who works out EVERY SINGLE DAY is going to get an injury at some point!

    1. Hi Liz!! Thanks for validating the point here that urgent cares are a great option BEFORE hitting up the ER. And ohhhh rest days and overuse injuries. I am SHOCKED that people don’t understand you need a day off. I really wish more people would catch on that these rest days are HELPING, not hurting. Hope you can share some of your knowledge in your moms group, lady!

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