Only one person in five is getting enough exercise, according to health studies. The 20 per cent that break into a sweat on a regular basis are seeing some significant health benefits.

One of the most profound is sleep quality. More than 80 per cent of regular exercisers say they get a good nights’ sleep compared to about half of non-exercising people. Good sleep patterns help with concentration and general well-being.

Regular exercisers tend to be more oxygenated, taking on more oxygen throughout the day and as a result feel they feel sharper and more alert. They also sweat sooner, helping their cooling and hydration cycles, provided they take on the right amount of fluids.

Calorie needs can be a third to 50 per cent higher for people who exercise, making them much less likely to put on weight from a normal balanced diet than someone who is getting little or no physical activity.

The resting heart rate will be about 20 beats per minute slower in the exerciser, compared to the heart rate of the sedentary person. This, no doubt, is one of the contributory factors to a life expectancy four years longer among people who take regular exercise.

If you don’t think you are getting enough exercise you should start slowly. Don’t go rushing out and trying to run three miles. A steady walk for 20 minutes every other day will make a big difference to your blood pressure and basic fitness. Then try to walk every day. Use stairs instead of lifts.

Pick up the pace after a couple of weeks but don’t go mad. Getting slightly out of breath is OK and feeling your heart rate increase is normal. If you are very unfit, if you are overweight or if you have underlying health problems, speak to your doctor before taking strenuous exercise. Always seek medical advice if you have any doubts or concerns.

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