After a cold winter and a wet early spring, you may be thinking of finally beginning an exercise regimen. But before you get physical, get a physical.

The American Council on Exercise advises men older than 45 and women older than 55 who have been relatively inactive to get a medical exam before they lace up the sneakers or pick up the weights. This is especially important for those with a family history of heart attacks or anyone being treated for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

The council says to be sure to let your doctor know if you have joint pain that becomes worse when you perform physical activity. If you have fallen in the past year or have experienced balance problems, share this information with your doctor.