The autumn months are a great time to establish a fitness regime for yourself and your family. As routines for the coming months are established in early September, it is important to build time for exercise into your daily and weekly plan – it may be difficult in these hectic times but the benefits far outweigh any initial inconvenience. Modern living habits mean that most people get very little vigorous exercise. Most of us travel to and from work in cars and come home stressed and exhausted and choose to watch TV or go to the pub rather than take physical exercise. Because of the changing lifestyle patterns, an increasing number of people are obese and overweight, and Irish children are among the most overweight in Europe. Ireland also has the highest rate in the EU of premature death due to heart disease. Improved heart health is just one of the many benefits of regular exercise. The average heart needs to pump up to 36,000 more times per day than a well-conditioned heart – that’s 13 million more times per year! Other benefits include increased energy levels, improved self-image, better relaxation and quality of sleep, strengthened and toned muscles and weight loss. Even a few minutes’ exercise built into your daily routine is beneficial. To really improve your health, you should introduce some aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is any activity that requires the body to use oxygen to produce energy. Swimming, brisk walking, circuit training, running or playing a competitive sport are all examples of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercises can help condition your muscles, heart and lungs if performed at the proper intensity for at least 30 minutes, three to four times a week. It may be an idea to join a gym or sports club where you have access to trained personnel who can offer you advice on a safe aerobic fitness plan.