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Exciting ways to stay motivated and get fit this year

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Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 4:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Thu Dec 26, 2013.

This is the time of year when many people set a weight loss goal and pledge to begin living a healthier life. Enrolling in a fitness program is a popular means of accomplishing a weight loss goal. But while many people are successful with their exercise programs, others fail because they quit the program before they can reap the benefits.

Lack of motivation is a key reason why people quit exercise programs early, with a whopping 53 percent citing this reason for giving up, according to a Harris Interactive study commissioned by Bodybuilding.com. Goals set too high, expense and the difficulty of the program rounded out the top four reasons.

To help people overcome these challenges and provide a little extra motivation, Bodybuilding.com is kicking off its free, annual $100,000 Transformation Challenge. Fifty thousand dollars each will be awarded to the male and female entrants who show the most significant transformation during the 12 week challenge. Participants will have access to a host of motivational tools, tips and programs built by Ph.D.s, celebrity and professional trainers and athletes to help them meet their goals, and can easily track their progress along the way using the free BodySpace app, which is available for both iOS and Android platforms.

In addition to possibly winning money, here are six other benefits of regular exercise:

* Reduced stress levels. More than half of the study respondents who completed their exercise program said they became a happier person during the program. Exercise is more than just a positive distraction. When you work out, you are actually releasing chemicals in your brain that reduce stress.

* Improved brainpower. Exercise also releases the chemical serotonin which has been proven to improve cognitive function and help you think more clearly.

* More courage. When you exercise, you feel better about yourself and this translates into more courage and confidence in your daily life.

* Find more energy to do what you love and try new things. Many study respondents said successfully completing their fitness program allowed them to do things they had never tried before, such as scuba diving or skydiving. One in five respondents also said they are enjoying an improved sex life after completing the program. Exercise causes the body to release endorphins which make you more energetic and allow you to enjoy these new opportunities.

* Help for your heart. Exercise helps your heart to pump blood more efficiently and effectively throughout your body. This also slows your overall heart rate and reduces your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

* Prevent disease. Exercise has been proven to prevent diseases like arthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke and bone loss. It can also improve your immune system.

Registration for the international challenge is open from Dec. 18, 2013 through Jan. 13, 2014, and then starting Jan. 13 participants will have 12 weeks to complete their transformation. To learn more and see how exercise can make a positive impact on your life in 2014, visit bodybuilding.com.

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