tjbosuMost of us associate exercise with a desire or goal to lose weight. While it is true that increasing your exercise – in combination with a healthy diet – may help you shed some of those excess winter pounds, the benefits of an active lifestyle as a habit extend well beyond reaching your “goal weight.” Whether you walk, run, or participate in your favorite dance work-out class, find a way to incorporate exercise into your life as a habit. Once exercise becomes as regular as going to the grocery store or watching your favorite TV show, you will reap the long-term benefits of an active lifestyle. Here are three key reasons to make the switch from a sedentary to an active lifestyle:

1. Stress Reduction
Even minimal exercise –science shows as little as 5 minutes of aerobic exercise (1) – can stimulate the production of endorphins in the body. Endorphins are chemicals released by the brain during exercise that help reduce stress, lift mood, improve sleep, and help with chronic pain.

2. Heart Health
Heart disease is the #1 killer in our country. Exercising 30 minutes a day/5 times a week is enough to help you prevent and reduce your risk (2) of heart disease. (Don’t be intimidated – start with a little each day and work your way up to the recommended amount of exercise.)

3. Prevention
Regular exercise as part of an active lifestyle reduces your risk of many common conditions including heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. Regular exercise also boosts your immune system (3), making you less likely to succumb to the flu and common colds.

Whether you work out from time to time or haven’t been active in years, one thing remains true: there is no time like the present! Start today. Find an activity you enjoy and make it a part of your regular routine; start slow to prevent injury and increase at your own pace. Your body will thank you!