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Staying active

Physical activity includes anything you do that involves moving your body. So instead of being a couch potato, you could get out gardening or grow your own vegetables. Pick a new hobby you have always dreamt of and make it happen. Instead of being an observer of sport, why not take part? Your physical and mental health are closely linked, so regular physical activity is really important to maintain your mental health and wellbeing too. In the UK, around a quarter of the population are classed as ‘inactive’ – that is not even achieving a minimum of 30 minutes of activity per week.

A little activity is better than none. Keep on the move. Don’t sit for long - get up and fetch that cup of tea. Get up and walk about regularly when you’re stuck at a computer for hours. Get active after a heavy meal and do something - walk home from your friend’s house rather than travel there and back by car.


Being outdoors amongst nature can help to lift your mood too. Physical fitness becomes even more important, the longer that you live.


Thirty minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity can comprise a brisk walk, a swim, a spell of gardening, cycling. Dancing can be as beneficial as someone going to a gym. It’s good for someone to have a mix of physical activities that includes resistance-type exercises such as press-ups or stretching limbs via resistance bands – to strength their muscles and bone mass.


So you should aim to be active everyday; and over a week your daily activities should add up to at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity in bouts of ten minutes or more e.g. at least 30 minutes of exercise on at least five days per week. Include exercises to improve your muscle strength on at least two days a week. Older adults should incorporate physical activity into their daily lives to improve their balance and coordination on at least two days a week; and of course, minimise the amount of time they spend sitting down for extended periods too.


As well as the physical benefits, exercising can help you to sleep better, feel happier and less stressed and less likely to feel depressed.


So what exercises should you do? Some people find it difficult to get to a gym (too expensive) or go for a run (too dark when they get home from work maybe). Lots of exercises can be done at home and be just as enjoyable; any movement is better than none. Your body doesn’t know whether you’re walking up and down the stairs or on a treadmill. So:

· use the stairs instead of a lift

· take any opportunity to walk, wherever you are

· walk for an extra stop before you catch a train or bus

· park your car further away from the shops or your workplace

· stand rather than sit at your desk.


Chair based exercises might suit you if you have mobility problems. They can improve your mobility and help you to maintain a range of motion – maybe using exercise resistance bands which can help to rebuild the strength of your arms or legs.


Find exercises that suit you - to get your heart pumping and stretch your back, neck, arms and legs in ways that feel right for you. Just half an hour a day of walking on most days is all it takes for you to help your heart and lungs to be more healthy. Aim for at least 10,000 steps a day.

Get a pedometer to count how many steps you do if your wrist watch doesn’t offer this function. Wear it all day long, when you’re walking to work, at work, gardening or dancing. Pedometers are quite cheap and some estimate the energy that you’re using to walk those steps as the amount of calories you’re burning up.


Apps

You may feel you need motivation when it comes to being and staying active. Some apps help you to keep track of the exercise that you do.

The Active 10 app can help you to set goals, track your daily steps, and motivate you to set and achieve your targets. The app is available at:

The Couch to 5K app - Get off the couch and run 5kilometres in just 9 weeks. Grab your trainers and follow the step-by-step audio instructions.

The app is available at:

Or search for ‘One You Couch to 5K’ on the App Store or Google Play.


Digital aids and Websites

Take a look at tips on how to get active around your home from


If you want to know more about what digital aids you can use for your own health and wellbeing and weigh up your choices, take a look at: https://www.digihealthwell.co.uk

Or for more detail take look at this handbook if you want to know more about how easy and useful digital aids can be, matched to the purpose you want it for such as healthy eating, regular exercise, better sleep and much more: Chambers R, Hatfield R, Stather P. Smart with your weight. ISBN 9798408502714 Amazon kindle & paperback January ’22: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09R3DJHSD


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