When trying to increase your physical activity levels, always remember to make it enjoyable. With a little effort you'll soon be able to reach your target of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity) a week*. Different people enjoy different things, and whilst running on a treadmill for an hour a night may suit one person, it will definitely not be for everyone. Remember that your 150 minutes could be made up of 5 x 30 minute sessions during the week or more, shorter sessions of 10 minutes or more. Many people say that the feel like they don’t have time to be active, so shorter sessions may make activity easier to fit into our day.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry – below are some suggestions to help you be active for during the day:
- During your lunch break go for a short walk. Not only is this good exercise, it will also get the blood pumping and help you concentrate in the afternoon.
- Investigate your local surroundings – brisk walking is a great way to keep fit, and there’s no better way to discover new things. You could even set up a walking group and plan fortnightly rambling excursions.
- Join a local sports club – examples may include badminton, netball, football or a dance class. Not only will this help you be more active, it is also a great way to make new friends.
- Try to organise your own lunchtime activity with your colleagues from work – this may be structured sport, such as a tennis tournament, or it may be something as simple as a game of rounders in the park once a week in the summer.
- Join a gym – many gyms offer a range of different fitness classes, from aerobics to yoga.
- If you have children, try to do activities together as a family – one night each week take them to play badminton, or see if there are any ice rinks or indoor skiing slopes nearby.
- It is never too late to begin exercising – some older adults may prefer activities such as gardening to sporting events, but gardening also counts towards your 30 minutes, provided it makes you feel warm and raises your heart rate. You could also take grandchildren to the park and kick around a football.
- As well as getting your 150 minutes of activity a week, it’s also important to spend less time sitting. Get up from your desk regularly if you have an office job, try walking instead of the bus and take a break from seated activities like watching TV to get up and walk about.
Some examples of how you can include physical activity into your daily life may include:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- When in a car park, park your car at the furthest point, so you have to walk further to your destination
- Get off the bus one stop before you usually do and walk the rest of the way to your destination
- At work, get up and walk to your colleague’s desk if you need to speak, instead of emailing from your desk
- Go for a 10 minute walk in your lunch break, and again before dinner in the evening
- Invest in a bike, and cycle short journeys instead of using the car.
As well as increasing your physical activity levels, it is also important to be aware of the amount of time you spend being sedentary (sitting or lying down). Many jobs now involve sitting in an office for long periods of time, and leisure time is often spent watching television or using a screen, such as surfing the web or playing computer games. Try not to spend long periods of time just sitting down – get up and move around from time to time, and think of alternative more active ways to spend your leisure time.
*Recommendation from the Department of Health
Last reviewed 20/01/2012. Next review due 20/01/2015