3 Steps to a Smarter Workout

Just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five days a week cuts your overall risk of mortality by 55 percent.
1. Start slow. The biggest danger of going gung-ho on fitness might not be physical but psychological. If you take on too much, too fast, you’ll burn out. Integrate exercise in a way that makes sense for your schedule and your lifestyle.
2. Pace yourself. Jumping into vigorous exercise without warming up is also dangerous. Allow several minutes at the beginning of each session to warm up—walk before you run, or do leg bends and arm circles. Get your blood pumping a little, which reduces stress on the heart and your chances of pulling a muscle.
3. Cool it. Don’t forget to leave time to cool down afterward. Stretching is effective. Although there’s scant scientific evidence that doing it actually reduces your risk of injury, fitness buffs say it staves off soreness. In any case, it improves flexibility and range of motion—big pluses, especially the older you are.