Get Active

Perhaps one of the best self-help measures against various illnesses, physical exercise is the low hanging fruit of wellbeing

Physical exercise can do wonders for our health. According to NHS Choices, it can reduce the risk of some major illnesses—such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer—by up to 50 percent and lower your risk of premature death by as much as 30 percent. The government advises 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, yet many of us neglect to take our recommended dose. Technology has made our lives easier; accessible public transport cancels out the need for walking and fewer people are doing manual work, shopping and chores. So what is the easiest way to get active in this modern age?

Exercise for adults

Every age group has its own fitness requirements. Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean spending a hefty sum of money—and time—in a gym. The key is finding activities that you enjoy and can easily fit around your everyday schedule. For any type of exercise to positively affect your health, it needs to higher our heart rate, make us feel warmer and breathe faster. 

For adults aged 19 to 64, the NHS advises two different types of exercise: aerobic and strength. In addition to two and a half hours of aerobic activity a week recommended by the health department, individuals in this age group should also aim to perform strength activities that work all the major muscles—legs, back, hips, chest, abdomen, arms and shoulders. Muscle strength is important for everyday movement. It also builds strong bones, regulates blood sugar and pressure and helps maintain a healthy weight. Lift weights (at least one set with eight to 12 repetitions), work with resistance bands, do sit-ups, heavy gardening or yoga to get all the benefits. Make sure to consult with your doctor before embarking on a brand-new fitness regime. They will be able to perform a full physical exam, letting you know your lung capacity, body mass index (BMI) and optimal weight.

Being active around the house—whether that is cooking, doing some housework or walking while doing other activities—is, perhaps, the easiest way of keeping fit. Find a friend to exercise with or join a walking group; both are great ways to get moving, meet new people and keep the mind in shape, too. Fitness classes can keep you motivated; swimming and aqua aerobics are especially ideal for older adults as both activities relieve strain on the joints. Yoga and Pilates, while more advanced, are suitable for all ability levels. Both can stretch and strengthen the body and are best for building strength, balance and flexibility.   

Exercise and disability

Even with a physical disability, getting out and playing team sports can do wonders for wellbeing. If you can walk, there is no better—or easier—way to raise your activity levels. If you prefer cycling, there are tricycles, quad cycles, recumbent bikes, hand-powered bikes and power-assisted bikes for those unable to ride a regular bicycle. Look for Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) gyms near you to take advantage of the all-inclusive classes. Adapted sports are a great option, too. 

Mental wellbeing

According to NHS Choices, being active can help with mild depression. It has also been hypothesised that exercise can protect individuals from anxiety and bring a heightened sense of self-esteem and accomplishment. This is because physical activity causes chemical changes in the brain—and releases endorphins—which help boost our mood.

Being inactive

According to the Department of Health (DoH), inactivity is a ‘silent killer’. In addition to our recommended exercise, it’s also important to avoid prolonged periods of sitting or lying down—when possible. Common examples of these sedentary habits include watching TV, using a computer or sitting in the car for extended intervals.

Getting active is important, but staying active and maintaining a healthy exercise regime is vital. Here are some top tips to help you stay motivated.

Top tips for staying active

Enjoy it. If you enjoy the type of exercise you do, you are more likely to keep it up.

Start slow. Build your activity level and intensity day by day and give your body enough time to adjust and adapt.

Small changes. Walk to work or get off the bus a few stops before your destination. Use your lunch break to go for a brisk walk and choose stairs over elevators. 

Set goals. Set realistic goals—you’re more likely to stick to them. Keep a diary and tick them off as you complete them. 

Variety. Once you are exercising regularly, don’t be afraid to change up your routine. This way, you’ll never get bored and working out may not seem like a chore.

Socialise. Instead of meeting family and friends for a drink at the pub, organise a gym date.

Don’t give up. Your body will benefit from every single workout—but physical changes and benefits will take time. 

You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get
• FREE Competitions
• FREE Digital Magazines
• HOME and FAMILY News
And much more…

You have Successfully Subscribed!