Getting fit isn’t just for top athletes and you don’t need Olympic ambitions or a certain body type to have an exercise regime. Also, you don’t have to hit the gym seven days a week to see your hard work paying off.

The health benefits of regular exercise are no secret: from reducing the risk of heart disease to decreasing your chances of diabetes, or obesity, however, it sometimes takes a little reminder of the benefits to motivate us to get our gym gear on.

Here are five good reasons why you should make it your mission to get fit, now!

Reduce stress

Conforming to one study, UK workers are more stressed than ever. A quarter (26%) of us took time off work in 2016 as a result of stress, and two-thirds (63%) of the working population lie awake at night worrying about their job. Ironically, the problem is causing us to become exhausted and consequently you become lacklustre and less productive – making things much worse.

It’s long been believed that exercise can help reduce stress, but now there’s even more evidence. Researchers in Sweden have shown that exercise can act like a detox for the mind, clearing out harmful substances that build up in the blood when we’re stressed out, and alleviating depression.

Dr. Jorge Ruas, the lead researcher explained: “Skeletal muscle appears to have a detoxification effect that, when activated, can protect the brain from mental illness.”

Aerobic exercise such as cycling or running were found to have the greatest impact.

Get active, get happy

Like stress relief, exercise is commonly linked to feeling good – that’s why your GP will often suggest getting some exercise if you’re feeling depressed.

Research has shown that being active can increase “feel good” chemicals serotonin, dopamine and others. Low serotonin is connected with depression, and dopamine affects movement, emotional response and the ability to feel pleasure.

It’s best if you can work out three to five days a week for 30 minutes at a time. But even 10 to 15-minute bouts of exercise might make all the difference.

So go on, treat yourself – get your sweat on.

Healthy body, healthy mind

Exercise can help keep your mind in tip-top shape as well as your body. The latest studies report that older adults who exercise infrequently experience a rate of cognitive decline equal to 10 more years of aging when compared with those who exercised regularly.

It was found that regular workouts helped people “keep their cognitive abilities longer”.

Keep pain at bay

We can all experience the odd ache and pain as we grow older. Exercise is known as an effective treatment for reducing the pain of aching joints. It not only reduces pain, stiffness and inflammation, it also increases our tolerance to pain. In other words, you might still experience the odd twinge but you’ll cope much better with it.

Research participants were asked to cycle for 30 minutes three times a week, over a six-week period. At the end of the study, their tolerance for ischemic pain (the type of burning pain you get when your muscles aren’t getting enough oxygen) was found to have increased significantly. It is thought that although the same amount of pain is being produced, the brain processes pain signals differently.

Live longer

Of course, there are no guarantees about tomorrow but there’s plenty of research to show that you’ll increase your chances of living a long life if you keep fit.

Cardiovascular exercise works in lots of ways to help extend your life, including reducing the risk of heart disease and helping you maintain a healthy weight.

The US’s National Cancer Institute has put a figure on it. Their study showed that people who do physical activity could live as much as 4.5 years longer. The more exercise you do, the more likely you are to see the benefits (and more years). It recommends 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week at a minimum.

While nobody’s guaranteeing that you’ll stay forever young, or that you’ll be so happy you’ll want to cartwheel everywhere, it’s fair to say that keeping fit can increase your enjoyment and the improve quality of your life.

You’ll most likely experience fewer aches and pains, you’ll have a more positive outlook, and you’ll also be sharper of mind as you grow older.

There’s no time to waste – start right now and you can realise some of the benefits of exercise for yourself.

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