Getting Active

Most of us know that we should be active, more often. Leading an active lifestyle is one of the best ways that we can help to prevent obesity, and to reduce the risk of developing common health problems like heart attack, stroke and cancer.

Combined with a healthy diet, being more physically active also improves the way that we look and feel, and boosts our self-esteem. Yet only one in five of us actually take enough exercise each day – proof that getting active is not always easy.

But it’s never too late to start  - by slowly building more activity into our daily routines, it is possible to change the habits of a lifetime.

If you have a condition like high blood pressure, heart disease or joint problems, or if you are over 60 and haven’t exercised for a while, talk to your GP for advice before you start. 

The benefits of being active

Being regularly active helps to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer, and to strengthen muscles and joints, reducing the risk of osteoporosis or brittle bones later in life. This is especially important for women, whose bones are more susceptible to osteoporosis after the menopause.

Regular physical activity that raises your heart rate and makes you breath faster (moderate activity) also triggers the release of chemicals, such as endorphins and serotonin, which improve your mood and help to reduce stress and anxiety. While it may be tiring at first, becoming more active will soon give you more energy.

Getting started

The best way to start to get fitter is to build more activity into your everyday life. This way, you can create healthier habits that will become part of your daily routine. You could try taking the stairs instead of the lift, cycling or walking to work, or going for a walk at lunchtime.

Next, try to build up a regular routine. Try to find some activities that you enjoy. You don’t have to join a gym – go for a walk with a friend or the dog, or try going swimming.

Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes everyday. So long as you get slightly out of breath you are making your heart and lungs work harder, and this is what will get you fitter. 

As you gain strength and confidence, you may want to try to build in a variety of activities, like aerobics, dancing or jogging, or team sports like football.

Whatever you choose, relax and enjoy it – you are more likely to stick at an exercise routine if you set yourself realistic targets and have fun in the process.

Further information

For more information, on getting more active you can visit these sites:

Last Reviewed: 15/07/2014