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From boosting your life expectancy to improving your mental health, there are plenty of reasons to keep active – and that doesn’t just mean sweating it out in the gym. Discover reasons to get moving and the best workouts to try below

The health benefits of exercise

The benefits of exercise are so wide ranging that even the NHS describes it as a ‘miracle cure’. Exercise can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis, as well as lower your risk of early death by 30%, so it’s no wonder we’re all being encouraged to get active and avoid an overly sedentary lifestyle. To stay healthy, adults should try to be active every day, aiming for at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This can range from vigorous activity, such as going for a run or to the gym, to muscle-building workouts, such as yoga and Pilates, plus walking wherever possible. And remember, the best exercise happens with clothing that makes you feel cool, confident and comfortable – which is where the thoughtfully designed Goodmove range, made from high-performance fabrics, really comes into its own.

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The social benefits of exercise

There’s nothing quite as bonding as exercising together, whether you’re sweating through burpees in the gym or enjoying a sociable game of five-a-side. From group exercise classes to organised sports, shared physical activity has many social benefits, providing an opportunity to meet like-minded souls and share an endorphin high. Families can also take advantage of exercise as a way to bond while boosting every family member’s health – the NHS recommends that those aged between five and 18 do at least an hour’s moderate-intensity exercise a day, so scoop the kids off the sofa and head out for a family workout.

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The mental benefits of exercise

Whatever your situation, there’s no denying that the last 18 months have been mentally tough. One survey from Mind found that, during the initial lockdown, 60% of adults and 68% of young people said their mental health had worsened, and experts warn of a mental health impact for years to come. While exercise certainly can’t cure mental illness, research has shown that it can boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, all of which are important for maintaining good mental health. Exercise can also reduce your risk of stress and depression. Finding time for yourself can be tricky, so we spoke to busy M&S staffers about how they schedule in exercise, and the mental health benefits they get from it. And, if you’re truly looking to treat yourself and your mind, check out our round-up of the best UK wellness breaks.

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Words: Sophie Hines

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