RunnersLiving an active lifestyle has physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits. While magazines and television advertisements are pasted with miracle drugs and supplements, nothing is a better cure-all than good old-fashioned exercise.

Most people are familiar with the physical benefits of leading an active lifestyle. Not only does exercise build muscle and metabolize excess fat, it also strengthens the heart an lungs and prevents heart disease. It also decreases the risk of osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Many people do not realize that exercise has mental benefits as well as physical. Exercise helps people release tension so that they can relax more deeply and get a better night's sleep. This allows them to have sharper mental focus. Plus, exercise improves circulation throughout the body, including the brain. Brains that are getting the right amount of oxygen and nutrients will be sharper, more focused, and less forgetful.

Living an active lifestyle has several emotional benefits as well. Exercise releases endorphins, which are feel-good brain chemicals. Exercise also regulated hormone levels and combats depression. Plus, people who exercise regularly are often less self-conscious about their bodies.

Finally, living an active lifestyle has social benefits. Exercise improves appearance, and people who feel comfortable in their own skin tend to be more outgoing socially. Plus, exercising is often a group activity. Going to the gym or out for a walk provides more opportunities for meaningful human interaction than staying home and sitting on a couch.

One does not need to be a professional athlete in order to reap the rewards of an active lifestyle. Twenty or thirty minutes a day is all it takes to produce physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits.