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Making an exercise plan?

Making an exercise plan? Here are 5 fitness benefits you might have forgotten about

Read the papers, and numbers of obesity-related illnesses seem to increase every day.

The good news? At least we are becoming more fitness savvy. Naturally, weight loss is a great motivation to exercise more regularly – but there are many other reasons to keep fit.

So if you’re looking for a little more inspiration to add exercise into your lifestyle, simply check out the tips below.

1. Suppress stress

With the number of NHS doctors prescribing exercise to treat stress and anxiety on the rise, it’s quickly becoming known as an effective option. So if you want to relieve the effects of a busy week, then exercise is a great way to do it. When you work out, your body releases endorphins that increase euphoria and make you feel happier. Anything from a walk around the park to opting for the stairs rather than the lift can release those ‘happy chemicals’ and improve your mood.

2. Boost your immune system

Regular exercise increases the flow of blood through your body – meaning nutrients make it to your cells quicker and antibodies (your body’s defence system) are delivered more effectively. Plus physical movement keeps your lungs active and clean so you’re less susceptible to coughs and colds. So avoid those winter sniffles by wrapping up and extending your daily dog walk.

3. Stay steady

Balance is key to many forms of exercise such as Pilates and cycling – and as they say: practice makes perfect! By using your core, you’ll build strength and tone muscle, helping to keep you balanced. This leads to less stress on your body by avoiding shifting weight to one side, and in turn can reduce aches and pains that come from loading joints.

If you walk a lot, then good balance can make you steadier and safer. It all adds up to better coordination – which could also help you beat the kids at the next tennis match...

4. Cleaner minds

Exercise regimes such as yoga and tai chi are not only incredibly effective in keeping you fit, they also encourage practices like meditation and mindfulness. Taken together with physical movement, it can play a huge part in keeping your mind balanced. Most yoga classes, particularly those for beginners, include a meditation section after the work out, and taking this time to clear out busy thoughts can really work wonders for the rest of the week. Don’t do it for your body – do it for your mind!

5. Boost self-confidence

Confidence is moreish. And once you begin exercising, you’ll find it just keeps coming. So whether you lose a few pounds and streamline your waist, or reap the benefits of anti-aging hormone releases that exercise brings, the side effects to keeping fit will increase your confidence. Add together the release of endorphins, looking good, feeling strong and the positive attitude that comes with keeping fit and your self-esteem will soar.

Keeping fit is great for your body and soul. Here are three simple principles to help build – and keep – the momentum:

  1. Find a friend - sticking with your exercise regime is always so much easier when you can rely on a companion to help you through.
  2. Do what you enjoy - if the gym holds little appeal and pounding the pavement is not quite your bag, start with exercise you really love - even if it's just a countryside walk.
  3. If all else fails, take a moment to clear your mind, and then pick one tiny change to make that day. Remember: that first step is always the hardest.

Whatever your plans are, our #makeaswitch campaign aims to both inspire and help you make those changes come to fruition. If you're looking to switch any of your finances, M&S Bank offer a range of products that may suit your needs, find out more here: current accounts, credit cards, loans, insurance, savings & investments.

Published 05/01/2016