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Motivation to move

If getting into shape isn't a high priority this year, check out these top 10 reasons to exercise. Looking good isn't one of them.

Joan Westlake

HealthKey.com contributor

January 13, 2010

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Sure, looking like a hunk or babe is reason enough to exercise. But there are some additional important motivations for moving. So if you think exercising is solely for the vain at heart, read on. And remember, it's not too late to reposition your resolutions for 2011.

1. Exercise combats chronic diseases: 
Cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart attack and type 2 diabetes are a few of the ills that regular exercise has been shown to ward off.

2. Exercise makes you happy: 
A brisk walk or session at the gym releases brain chemicals that make you feel great about the world and yourself.

3. Exercise reduces stress: 
The nasty cortisol that floods your body during stress is dissipated by activity.

4. Exercise controls weight: 
Have you not figured out that motion burns calories? The more you move, the more you burn. Do the math.

5. Exercise ages you gracefully: 
Nothing says "old" more than a lack of mobility and flexibility. Regular exercise and strength training can ward off those problems for decades. Plus, increased circulation keeps the body glowing with youth.

6. Exercise gives you energy: 
Activity boosts your energy levels. Increased blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to your cells, enabling them to work longer and more efficiently.

7. Exercise helps you sleep: 
Studies show that you'll fall asleep more quickly and deeper if you've exercised earlier in the day. Be sure there's enough time between working out and bedtime or the energy benefits may keep you awake.

8. Exercise makes you sexy: 
In addition to having more energy and feeling better about yourself, exercise has some physiological benefits for the bedroom. Women enjoy enhanced arousal and men are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction.

9. Exercise keeps you smart: 
Focus and concentration, known as mental acuity, is improved when you move. This is especially noticeable with aging. Activity reduces your chances of developing Alzheimer's or signs of senility.

10. Exercise saves you money: 
Good health is a bonus of fitness. Doctors, hospitals and drugs cost money. Not to mention increases in health insurance if you develop the chronic problems that plague the inactive. Think of every step you take as money in the bank.