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Keeping Active

Increasing activity and exercise can seem intimidating, especially if you’re not usually interested in fitness. However, there are many ways to stay fit and healthy without in a way that works for you.
Physical activity can be an enjoyable and even sociable experience, and keeping active has huge benefits for your health.

Before you get started…

Remember to keep your GP and care team informed on any exercise that you’re undertaking and ensure that you take any advice that they provide.
It is vital to try to cut down on alcohol consumption and cut out smoking entirely. As well as being harmful to your health, drinking and smoking can also make exercise and the steps to a healthier life much more difficult.
Remember to take things at a pace that works for you. Start slowly and gradually build up to more challenging exercises, and don’t forget to take regular breaks too.

Why exercise more?

Everyone can benefit from physical activity. It does not matter what age you are, your size, weight or ability to move around.
Physical activity is any movement of your body that uses energy. It can be as simple as walking, gardening or shopping, or exercise like swimming, playing tennis or jogging.
Just 30 minutes of exercise or activity a day can vastly improve your life. It can:

  • Make your heart stronger and work better
  • Lower your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Improve your balance and coordination
  • Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you need to
  • Produce hormones that make you feel good
  • Lower your stress levels and help you relax
  • Reduce the effects of depression and anxiety
  • Improve your breathing
  • Reduce your risk of developing serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes
  • Manage and improve health conditions you may already have

Did you know that people who do regular physical activity can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 35%?

How much physical activity should I do?

The amount of physical activity you’re able to do will depend on many factors, but most people should aim for around 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. You may find it easiest to spread this out across several sessions, for example a 30 minute walk before work each day. Moderate activity should increase your breathing and heart rate but you should still be able to talk – activities might include swimming, walking or cycling.
Or, if you want to challenge yourself a bit more, aim for around 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week instead. This is activity that makes your breathing fast and talking difficult. For example, running, playing sport or hiking uphill.
You should also aim to build strength on 2 or more days a week. Strength exercises help to keep your muscles, bones and joints strong. These include things like using weights, carrying your groceries or doing yoga.
If you are 65 or over, on 2 days a week you should choose to do activities that also help with your balance and flexibility. Examples include bowls, tai chi, yoga or dancing.

How to get started with exercising more

With all exercise, it’s vital that you are patient with yourself. You won’t be a marathon runner after a month, but what you will be after consistent exercise is somebody that feels better in and about themselves. Start small and watch over time as the changes in your body and mind feel bigger and bigger!
Start small. Instead of taking the lift, take the stairs. Walk around your neighbourhood for 30 minutes – or go for three 10-minute walks across your day. Try to choose exercises that are dynamic and aerobic so that you’re breathing in more air and moving your limbs. These include walking, dancing, swimming, and cycling.
Be kind to yourself wherever possible – don’t do exercises that you don’t enjoy as you’ll no longer feel motivated to keep exercising. Instead, find the exercise that you enjoy and make the most of it! Join clubs or classes and get the boost of being motivated by the people around you.

Exercise self-care

Remember to warm up and cool down for each session to avoid injury and ensure that you’re staying consistently active and building healthier fitness habits without interruption.
Additionally, keep a filled water bottle with or near you at all times and make sure that you’re drinking as often as possible, even if it’s just a lot of small sips.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and build up your pace gradually throughout your exercise session.
It’s important you don’t overdo it. If you start to feel any pain or a lot of discomfort, stop immediately.

Tips for staying motivated

Keeping up with an exercise routine can be difficult, but it’s important to stay motivated and find a way to enjoy physical activity as part of your daily life.
Here are some of our tips to help you stay motivated:

  • Try a new exercise, sport or type of physical activity to keep things interesting
  • Exercise with a friend or find out about a local gym or exercise group, such as a walking group
  • Try using a pedometer or an app to count your steps and the distance you’ve walked
  • Keep a diary to help stay focused and see your progress
  • Set small, realistic goals or targets
  • Celebrate achievements, no matter how small
  • Have rest days to help your body recover
  • Look for different signs of progress like how much energy you have or how much activity you are able to do
  • Remember that even if you don’t see changes in the mirror, changes are taking place on the inside
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