Getting active can be hard, especially when we lead such busy lives. It can be difficult to get motivated and find the time. So, how can we add activity into our daily routine?
When you think of physical activity (exercise), you might think of going for a run or a session in the gym. Although these are two examples of physical activity, there are so many more ways to be active.
It is a common misconception that to be counted as ‘exercise’ you have to run a 10k or lift weights in the gym. Physical activity is any activity that requires you to move such as walking.
How much exercise should we be doing?
The recommended amount of activity for many of us is to aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous. However, if you’re just starting out, that might seem like quite a lot, so it’s best to try doing just a few minutes or build activity into the way that you move, work or travel. It’s also really important to build strength, so on at least two days a week try things like carrying heavy bags, yoga or perhaps going to the gym.
What counts as ‘moderate’ activity?
Moderate intensity activity is any activity that increases your breathing but still allows you to hold a conversation. Some examples of moderate activity include:
- moving around the house
What counts as ‘vigorous’ activity?
Vigorous activity might make you a little more out of breath so talking will be more difficult. Some examples of vigorous activity include:
- climbing stairs
- sports activities
Getting active when you have are living with a long term health condition or disability
Being active when you have a long term condition or living with a disability is important to support you in leading an independent life, connecting with other people and making daily tasks more manageable.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity (can talk but struggle to sing), but build up at a pace that works for you, starting with just a few minutes each week before gradually increasing as you feel confident and able to.
If you are living with a disability or long term condition you could check out the Activity Alliance Being Active Guide or We are undefeatable for inspiration. More guidance is available here.
Click here to view the Chief Medical Officer's guidelines
Take it one step at a time
It is really important that when starting to add physical activity into your daily routine, you don't do too much at once. Sometimes when we start something new and feel really motivated, we want to give it our all and throw ourselves into an exercise regime that is unsustainable.
Finding ways to incorporate physical activity into the tasks you already do each day, will save you time and will help physical activity become a normal part of your daily routine. Take a look below for some examples.
A great way to start is to add activity to things you already do. Whether it’s housework, gardening or waiting for the kettle to boil, a little extra movement goes a long way. Listening to some music, dancing while you vacuum and generally having fun while you do your daily activities will amount to more than you think and have a big impact on your health. Try:
- Walk the length of your driveway
- Next time you raise up from a chair to stand, try doing it a few more times to build strength in your legs
- Pop the vacuum round or mow the lawn
- Do a few stretches when waiting for the kettle to boil
Getting from A to B
You can also think about the way you get around. Try adding physical activity to your commute or your daily journeys. For example:
- If you normally drive, park further away from your destination and walk the rest of the way
- Take the bus? Get off one stop early if you can
- Make the most of Gloucestershire’s new cycle paths by cycling to work
- Use more public transport where possible – walk to your nearest bus stop
- Walk your children to school a couple of times a week
- Got to do the food shopping? Park further away from the shop doors
Anchor activity to existing habits or tasks
Think about how many tasks you do at home when you just stand there – like boiling the kettle or bushing your teeth. This time is a great opportunity to get active.
- Try doing some gentle stretching while you wait for the kettle to boil
- Balance on one leg while you brush your teeth
- Move around the house while dinner is cooking
- Tidying up? Take more trips up the stairs when putting things away rather than trying to take it all in one go
- If you have a sit down job, get up and walk around during your breaks or have a walking meeting
However you decide to move, the key is to begin with something manageable and not put pressure on yourself to do more than you feel comfortable with.
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