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While almost any pro can give you some pointers worth listening to, Plancher says you should make certain your trainer is aware of your personal parameters, including your age.

"If your trainer is in their 20s and you’re in your 40s, make sure he or she has some background in the natural degenerative processes of the human body," Plancher says. "There is such a thing as a trainer pushing you too hard, and that can increase the risk of injury."

4. Act Your Age 

It starts out as a simple desire: You just want to get more exercise. But somehow, a kind of "fitness amnesia" takes over. Before you know it, you’ve blocked out the years -- or sometimes decades -- since the last time you exercised.

The end result is that you do too much too quickly for too long with too much intensity. And injury is often the end result, Plancher says.

The shoulders, he says, are among the body parts at greatest risk when old athletic dreams die hard.

If you repeat a motion that puts too much strain on your shoulder joint or force the muscles to work in a misaligned way, Plancher says, it’s hard not to end up with a fitness injury.

5. Warm It Up and Take It Slow

Whatever type of fitness activity you're doing, you’re less likely to get injured if you warm up before every session and slowly build the pace of your workout over time.

"The warm-up helps the muscles to handle stress so they are less likely to be injured," Plancher says. "And the pacing is just the common sense way to avoid injury."

So if, for example, you’re new to weight training, start with weights you can lift for 8-12 reps, and do no more than three sets. When that gets easy, increase the weight by just 2% at your next session.

"Overestimating your [strength] will lead to improper technique and recruitment of auxiliary muscles," Schroeder says. Translation: It means a higher risk of injury.

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