Father Time spares no man and takes his ruthless toll no matter what! But did you know that there’s a way to stall the whole aging process without potions, lotions and plastic surgeries? It’s called exercise and it’s the only real fountain of youth we have. Besides building bigger muscles and reducing pesky belly fat, there are a whole lot of extra physical and mental benefits that come with a regular workout program.

Exercise revs up your metabolism. As you age, your metabolism slows, so it’s harder to keep those extra pounds at bay. Doing cardio 4 or 5 times per week for an hour or so helps burn up excess calories and keeps your cardio-vascular system healthy. If you add resistance training to your routine 2-4 times per week, you’ll preserve and even build lean muscle. The more muscle you carry, the more calories you burn all the time, even when you’re sleeping!

Exercise relieves stress and improves your mood. When you exercise, whether it’s a swim, a run, or a session with the weights, your body releases pain-killing hormones called endorphins. These babies produce a relaxing effect upon the body giving you a break from the day’s worries and anxieties. An early morning workout, or any exercise you do for that matter, also gives you the satisfaction of knowing you’ve done something positive for yourself.

Exercise boosts heart health. Like all muscles, the heart gets lax and flabby with inactivity. As a result, it must work harder to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body leaving you tired and winded. Exercise helps the heart grow stronger, making it easier for your ticker to do its job efficiently. In addition, an active and more athletic lifestyle reduces the risk of hypertension and elevated levels of triglycerides that can block arteries and cause heart attacks. Regular exercisers also report lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

Exercise ignites your sex drive. Working out improves blood flow throughout your whole body, even “down there”. Yes, exercise can make you feel more aroused and responsive. In addition, there’s an added psychological boost. When you feel better and look hotter, you’re bound to be in a sexier mindset more often!

OK, I can go on and on about the anti-aging benefits of regular exercise. Here’s just a few more. It seems that exercise, especially aerobic activities like running and swimming increase the size of the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory. Stay active and say goodbye to those “senior moments”! Regular exercisers fall asleep more easily and are more likely to experience deep REM sleep, the kind that leaves you refreshed and rejuvenated the next day. A mild stretching program, or better yet, yoga or Pilates classes combined with regular cardio and weights will help keep joints flexible and pliable for years.