Whether you are young or old, getting enough movement in to your day is really important.
It doesn’t just help your heart, it also improves your mental health, gives you chances to connect with others, and can even reduce your impact on our planet.
The amount of activity you need as you grow changes.
It’s also important that activity is vigorous enough to raise your heart rate. Even if you’re on your feet all day, you may still not be getting the exercise your body needs.
For under 5s, your little one needs up to 180 minutes of activity every day, the more, the better, and all movement counts. It will help with healthy weight, coordination, growth and getting a good night’s sleep. Read more about the activities young children need.
For 5 to 18-year-olds, 60 minutes of vigorous activity, with a mix of aerobic activity (building up your heart and lung fitness) and strength exercises (for healthy growth and movement) is recommended. Activity should be at least moderate intensity – enough to lift your heart and breathing rate and make you feel a bit warm, but it can include walking briskly to school, cycling, dancing or swimming for aerobic exercise, and football, jumping or martial arts for strength. Find out more on the guidance via NHS.uk.
Adults after 19 to 64 should aim to do some physical activity every day, adding up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity activity a week, ideally spread over at least 4 days. Moderate activity includes brisk walking, riding a bike or mowing the lawn. High-intensity activity includes running, swimming and team sports. Again, you want a mix of aerobic and strength exercises. Find the full guidance for adults here.
Older adults aged 65 or over should still be physically activity every day, even if activity is lighter. You should do strength, balance and flexibility exercises at least twice a week, and still aim for 150 minutes of activity throughout the whole week. Activities to strengthen muscles include carrying heavy shopping bags, digging in the garden, or pilates. There’s more information and links to helpful exercises on nhs.uk
If your life isn’t built around regular physical activity, being asked to do this much can feel way too much. Even if you can’t manage this, remember that something is far better than nothing.
Even one or two sessions per week can significantly reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
If you’ve not exercised for some time, or you have medical conditions or concerns, speak to your GP or health professional first. They can help you choose the right level of activity to start with.
Couch to 5k
Join more than 4 million people and use Couch to 5k to start running.
Track and build up your daily walks
For getting fit as a family, Healthier families also have a range of free resources.
This includes Disney-themed 10-minute activity games to try at home and links on how you and your child can connect with a wide range of sporting activities.
Your local council may also offer support and discounts, so look at the leisure services' section of their website to see what’s available.
It can be difficult to get enough activity if it’s one extra thing you have to fit into your day.
It’s therefore important to make a plan that works around you, so exercise can happen throughout the busyness of your life.
- Make it part of your day. Cycling to school, walking to the train station rather than getting in the car, or taking the stairs at work helps fitness be part of your day.
- Leave for lunch. If your commitments allow, lunch is a good opportunity to fit in some activity. Take a brisk walk, or try a quick 10-minute home workout.
- Find something you enjoy. If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
- Track your progress. Keeping a diary, a note on the fridge or using an app, can help encourage you when it’s harder.
- It’s better together. Try finding a friend or family member who wants to take on the challenge with you, and you can encourage each other.
Whether you want to improve your sleep, clear your mind, boost your energy, lose weight, save money on travelling, reduce your risk of heart, brain and blood problems, or ease those aches and pains, there’s never been a better day to get more active.