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Before you start

Most authorities recommend that individuals over age 35 who have previously been inactive, or persons suspecting a medical problem, obtain a physician's clearance before beginning a vigorous exercise program.

Set goals

Studies show that you are more likely to stick with your exercise program if you establish specific and realistic goals and schedules. Set aside a regular time for your workouts and set goals for distance covered, games completed or exercises performed.

See balance

A balanced workout consists of three types of exercise: Strength (calisthenics and weight training), endurance (aerobics, running, swimming, cycling, walking briskly) and flexibility (stretching, bending, twisting). You should include all three in your workout schedule.

Get the best

Exercise intensity for aerobic conditioning is measured by heart rate. A good activity level is 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, which can be determined by subtracting your age from 220. Thus the recommended rate for a 40-year-old person is 126 (220 minus 40 times 70 percent).

Use it or lose it

You can't hoard physical fitness. At least three balanced workouts a week are necessary to maintain a desirable level of fitness.

_ Compiled from Scripps Howard News Service reports

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