SCOTS are putting themselves at risk of crippling joint conditions by not exercising safely.
A survey has revealed one in three people who exercise regularly "never" warm up and more than half do not know how to cool down muscles and joints.
Health experts say jumping straight into an activity increases the chances of injury, which can potentially lead to long-term problems such as osteoarthritis – the most common form of joint disease.
The Active Age survey, by Arthritis Research UK, also found that 36% of people did no regular sporting activity. It interviewed 2583 adults and 1022 children across the UK.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease.
An estimated 8.5million people in the UK are affected by OA, which results in the wearing away of cartilage and bone.
There is some evidence that some types of acute sports injury and prolonged, excessive wear and tear on joints are risk factors for the development of osteo-arthritis in some people.
Arthritis Research UK is funding a major UK investigation into the long-term implica-tions of sports injuries.
Amanda Lambert, 46, of Langbank, Renfrew-shire, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis two years ago, aged 44, after developing severe pain in her ankles.
Prior to her diagnosis, she took part in two half marathons, 10k runs, circuit training and gym classes on an almost daily basis but can no longer do high- impact exercise.
She said: "I had had some problems since childhood, but I didn't know anything about it. I started running about 10 years ago and it just got steadily worse.
"They said it was severe degeneration of the cartilage. Luckily, I'm still able to enjoy lower-impact exercise, which helps to manage my symptoms and reduces my need for strong painkillers.
"I would never say don't run but I do think you have to be careful and stretch properly. Listen to your body."
Evening Times columnist and NHS 24 medical director Prof-essor George Crooks, OBE, said: "Professional athletes over the years have recognised the importance of warming up before any form of exercise and they know that it is equally important to warm down afterwards.
"Our bodies, including the muscles and joints, are finely tuned machines and, just as we'd expect a car to be damaged by going from a cold engine to flat out immediately, our bodies are the same.
"We need to warm up and cool down properly from exercise to ensure that we see long-term improvements to fitness and don't cause long-term damage."
:: Osteoarthritis usually develops in people aged over 50 and is more common in women than in men.
:: Symptoms include pain, stiffness and a grating or grinding sensation when the joint is moved.
:: Younger people can also be affected by osteoarthritis, often as a result of an injury or another joint condition.
:: It mostly occurs in the knees, hips and small joints of the hands and base of the big toe. However, almost any joint can be affected.
:: There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but the symptoms can be eased with a number of different treatments.