Regular physical activity has a number of health benefits. It has been proven to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, heart disease and stroke. Evidence also suggests it is good for your mental health and improves well-being.
Some studies indicate adults who are active regularly can improve thinking and memory which can lower the risk of developing dementia. Taking part in physical activity is a great way to get out and about, build social networks and meet new people.
Picking an activity you enjoy is important as you will be more likely to stick to it. Becoming more active does not have to be difficult and simple changes to your routine can make a big difference. For example:
- Walk up the stairs instead of using lifts or escalators
- Get off the bus a couple of stops early
- When walking, choose a longer or hilly route
- Park further away at shopping centres and walk the extra distance
- Stand up whilst talking on the phone
Adults who have no limiting health conditions and are generally fit should aim to be active daily. The recommended level is 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous physical activity.
Moderate physical activity should make you feel warmer and get your heart beating faster, but you should still be able to talk. Brisk walking is a great activity for people of all ages and fitness levels. It is simple, free and you don’t need any special equipment. Other examples of moderate activities include gardening, swimming, playing bowls and ballroom and line dancing.
Vigorous physical activity should make you breathe hard and fast and raise your heart rate significantly. Examples of vigorous activity include jogging or running, fast swimming, football, tennis and aerobics.
Strength and Balance Exercises
You should also try and do activities that strengthen your muscles at least twice a week. Examples include carrying heavy shopping bags, lifting weights, digging the garden.
Adults with limited mobility who are at risk of falls can benefit from activities that improve balance and co-ordination. Examples include Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and seated exercises e.g. marching, bending legs, waving arms and stretches.
For further information on keeping active visit NHS Choices - Live Well or speak to your GP practice who can give you information and advice.