More than seven in 10 adults age 45 and older say they are physically active.
Fewer than one in 10 adults age 45 and older say they plan to start regular exercise in the next month.
About one in 5 adults age 45 and older say they do not engage in regular physical activity and do not have plans to start.
Sources: AARP, UnitedHealthcare
•Start slowly. You may be a bit sore at first as your body adjusts, and that's normal.
•Weight training is fine, though weight machines provide more stability than free weights and help users maintain proper technique. Same goes for stationary bikes. And swimming is also a good, safe alternative.
•Work out five or six days every week to maintain conditioning, but allow for relaxation and recovery.
•Keep a log so you can chart progress and see if you're missing too many workouts.
•Find an exercise that is fun, or is scheduled, like a class, so you keep it up.
•You don't necessarily need to see a doctor before getting going with walking, for example, unless you have pre-existing conditions that concern you.
•If you do have pain, see a doctor, preferably a sports medicine doctor. That doctor can best assess pain or recommend a better exercise program or shoe. (Most of the time, knee pain, for example, means you have a problem with your feet, like you need better shoes or inserts.)
•A little Advil or Tylenol, or even glucosamine, can take the edge off beginners' aches.
•Make sure to stay hydrated.
Source: Dr. William Howard
Fitness and arthritis
Arthritis is a common malady that keeps seniors from exercising. But Dr. William Howard, a founder of Union Memorial Sports Medicine and a senior physician with the Arnold Palmer SportsHealth Center in Baltimore, says exercise does not cause arthritis, and can even help prevent it by toning muscles, especially in the legs that support the knees, a prime target for the joint disease.
Exercise can, however, irritate the painful condition. Howard suggests swimming, a no-gravity exercise. It lengthens and stretches muscles and loosens joints a bit. He also suggests riding a stationary bicycle on a low tension so it doesn't strain the knees or hips. And weight training is OK but with light weights and high repetition to tone not bulk muscles.
"If anything hurts when you do it, it's probably wrong, but there is plenty you can do with very little, if any, pain," he said.