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The Benefits of Exercise

How can you become fitter, healthier and less stressed?
Exercise is the answer explains Elaine Brown.

If you often have aches and pains it's easy to think that you shouldn't do any strenuous activity. Not necessarily so. Often too little exercise means your body is weak. If you keep doing less you get even weaker and more vulnerable to strains and injuries. The only way to reverse the decline and get stronger is more activity.

If you haven't been to a gym in a while though, start slowly. Perhaps just go for a walk - that counts. Most people underestimate the benefits of walking according to Dr Paula Franklin, assistant medical director at BUPA. 'It's an exercise that most people can do and it's something that can easily fit into most lifestyles.'

In the long term you'll avoid many common illnesses, some of which are serious. Some research at Brookes University on walking for health discovered that walking only two miles most days can reduce your chances of a heart attack by 28 percent. And strokes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis are just some of the ailments you'll reduce your chances of getting.

The short term benefits really make a noticeable difference to the way you look. If you eat the same amount but exercise more, you'll lose body fat and start to tone up muscles. You'll look better and probably feel more confident about your body which in turn will make you happier on the beach or in the bedroom.

Many people also find that their skin tone improves. Dull skin is sent packing by the increased oxygen flowing around the body.

If you need any more incentives to get going, exercise frequently reduces stress, improves concentration and helps with a good sound sleep.

These benefits are really noticeable when you do 30 minutes five days per week. However you can build up to that or break it into three 10 minute sessions per day. The good news is that gardening and active housework both count as exercise. Or perhaps that should be bad news?