Regular exercise can give you more energy, improve your mood and help you sleep better. It can even reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. It strengthens muscles, bones and joints, and protects against weight gain, high blood pressure and cholesterol. It also helps you manage stress and keep your brain healthy. And, as a bonus, it can boost your self-esteem.

But, all of this is only true if you exercise regularly and make it a part of your lifestyle. And, if you’re like most people, getting to the gym is easier said than done. The good news is that you can get many of the benefits of regular exercise without a gym membership or having to work out for hours every day.

For the average person, getting 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise five days a week is enough to improve their health. However, if you want to see more results from your exercise routine, you need to go beyond just walking around the block or doing a few laps in the pool. You need to get more vigorous activity and include muscle and bone strengthening exercises, as well.

If you’re worried about a fitness level, age or injury, speak to a doctor before starting a new exercise program. They will be able to recommend a plan that’s right for you. You may need to take it slowly at first or change up the type of exercise you do in order to feel comfortable and achieve your goals.

The best types of exercise are those that work all parts of your body, so try activities such as swimming, walking, jogging and dancing. You can also use home workout videos and online fitness apps. Just be sure to include some flexibility and balance exercises, too, to prevent injuries and stay healthy.

Getting more physical activity can also be a great way to meet new people, especially if you’re feeling lonely or stressed. Exercise can release hormones called endorphins, which can improve your mood and make you feel happy and positive. These effects can last for hours, so you’ll be feeling the benefits long after your workout is over.

In addition to the physical and mental health benefits of exercise, research shows that people who exercise regularly incur lower healthcare costs than their sedentary counterparts. In fact, one study found that active individuals had almost $4,000 less in healthcare costs over a four-year period than their matched cohort.

The bottom line is that everyone, no matter what age or fitness level, should be exercising regularly. If you’re not already, start working out today. You can make it fun, and you might just find that the health benefits outweigh the effort required to fit a little movement into your life! Just remember to get your doctor’s okay before beginning a new exercise program, especially if you’re a senior citizen or have a health condition like heart disease or arthritis.

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