Exercise can not only keep you fit but cut your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and help you control your weight. It can even improve your mood and help prevent back pain and arthritis.
The trouble is that with busy lives many of us feel we don’t have the time for anything sporty or feel too tired to get active.
Yet building more activity into your life will help you feel better able to cope with stress and give you more energy.
Benefits of Exercise
Just 20 minutes a day of exercise can reduce fatigue by 65 per cent and that’s not all it can do. Regular exercise can also:
- Reduce your cholesterol levels and help get your blood pressure down.
- Cut the risk of serious illness such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, strokes or even dementia by half.
It’s not just that exercise is good for you. Scientists have established that prolonged periods of sitting are bad for you and raise the risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
Being inactive for much of the day also raises your risk of depression. So if you have a job that involves little activity it really is important to get moving at every opportunity.
How to get more active
Getting active doesn’t mean you need to spend hours pounding on a treadmill.
The Department of Health recommends that adults aged 19-64 get 2 hours and 30 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. That is something that gets your heart beating faster and makes you feel warmer. That could be something as simple as brisk walking, cycling, volleyball, water aerobics or mowing the lawn.
The alternative to this is to do around 1 hour 25 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week. This includes activities that really get your heart rate up – and get you breathing harder so that you can only say a few words at a time. Examples include jogging, fast cycling or playing football or rugby. Don’t think that just because you have never done vigorous exercise you never can.
As well as exercises to get your heart and lungs fitter you need to do exercises to keep your muscles stronger. This helps prevent aches and pains and reduces the likelihood of injuries to your joints.
The recommendation is that you practise muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all the muscle groups (the back, abdomen, arms, legs etc.) such as yoga, digging, lifting weights or circuit training.
If you have an existing medical condition always check with your GP first before starting an exercise plan.
What can you do?
You don’t need to spend hours pumping weights to get fit. In fact new research has found that just walking more or generally being more active can be better for you than going to the gym. Also the recommendation of achieving 2 hours and 30minutes of activity per week does not need to be done all at once, this can be broken down into 10 minute blocks so you can fit it in around your daily routine.
Follow these simple tips to get more active within your day to day routine:
- Never take a lift , always use the stairs and walk wherever possible.
- Cycle to the office or get off one stop early on the route to work and walk.
- Take up an active hobby. Rather than arranging to see friends for a drink arrange to do something active with them such as going for a bike ride, playing a game of squash or going for a walk.
Visit our getting started page for further support.