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Thirty minutes to fitness!

13 MAY 2010

We're all liable to be lazy when it comes to physical exercise. That can't-be-bothered feeling gets to us and we forget the physical and mental benefits we're missing out on.

Make an effort to get over that first hurdle and you'll probably find that you feel better already. The secret is in the endorphins that are released during exercise. These chemicals occur naturally in the brain and not only do they reduce pain, but they make you feel good, too.

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But, what kind of exercise is best for you?

Aerobics
Aerobic exercise is associated with oxygen and how it is used in the body. The term includes activities such as walking, swimming and cycling, which are performed at moderately intense levels and for sustained periods, rather than in short bursts, making it perfect for people who don't get active on a regular basis. Try it five to seven days a week, for around 25 minutes, in the morning if possible. Gradually, your body will get used to the physical effort and your circulation and stamina will improve.

Stretching
For people whose age or physical condition means more effort is needed for movement, stretching may be the answer. It will help you gain flexibility and improve muscle tone.

Resistance
Resistance is far from useless! It's a particularly good form of exercise for those who want to develop lean body mass - to build muscle rather than just lose fat. This kind of activity also stimulates the secretion of hormones and strengthens bone density. The increased muscle mass will mean more calories are burnt.

A good plan for a daily exercise routine might include all three types of activity:
• 15-20 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking, biking, running or swimming
• 10 minutes of stretching
• 10 minutes of weight training

In just over half an hour a day you'll soon start to see results. Remember that regular exercise, combined with a healthy balanced diet, can help you:
• Lose weight and improve muscle tone
• Lower cholesterol and insulin levels in the blood
• Lower blood pressure and prevent osteoporosis
• Improve your self-esteem and body image perception

Note: If you have any health problems or are unused to regular exercise, it's a good idea to have a word with your doctor before starting a new exercise plan.

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