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Your heart, your bones and your bank account will thank you for regular trips to the gym.

As you enter mid-age, health factors are as important as the aesthetic benefits of regular work outs. With health care costs rising, fitness will mean fewer medications, injuries and trips to the doctor.

How much do you need to make real change?

Trainer Vince Freese said count onfour tofive, 30 to 45 minutes each,cardio sessions a weekand at least two days of strength training.

"Its not just feeling better,you're going to look younger, your metabolism will improve, your immune system, it's a good package of benefits," Freese said.

If you aren't used to working out, walking is a good start until you can build up to using a gym cardio machine.

Regular workouts also combat the "weekend warrior" risk of injury.

"When you get older, your bone density drops so if you get into a strenuous sport, like the company softball team, you might get injured more easily," Freese explained.

Nutrition is another area that requires extra attention as we age.

If you need to drop a few pounds, stick to complex carbohydrates and protein for breakfast (oatmeal and eggs) and take a pass on pasta or bread at dinner.

Freese suggests one more thing to his clients who are watching their weight, a teaspoon of peanut butter before bed each night.

"When you eat cleanly throughout the day, you are bound to have cravings," Freese said. "A small treat like peanut butter soothes that craving, but doesn't bust your calorie count."

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