Regular physical activity is good for our bodies and minds, but it can be difficult to get started – especially if we’re not particularly sporty or have not done any exercise for a while.
Here are some simple ideas to build more activity into your day, tips to stick with it and free exercise plans to help you get going.
Why physical activity is important
Being active is great for your physical and mental health – not only can it help manage stress, ease any joint or back pain and boost your energy levels, but it can also improve sleep and lift your mood.
We also know that people who increase their physical activity alongside improving their diet are often more successful at losing weight and keeping it off.
At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity over a week (around 20 minutes or so a day) is recommended, but every minute counts, so start gradually and build up from there. Some is good, and more is better!
Did you know?
Moderate-intensity exercise is any activity that raises your heart rate, and makes you breathe faster and feel warmer – like brisk walking, dancing, riding a bike or pushing a lawnmower.
One way to tell if you’re exercising at a moderate level is if you can still talk but you cannot sing.
Ways to increase activity in daily life
Not all of us are naturally sporty and it can be hard to know where to begin.
Start small by finding easy ways to fit more activity into your daily life and build up from there. For example:
- stand rather than sit when you can, like on train or bus journeys, or try getting off the bus a stop or two early and walking the rest of the way
- if you have to drive somewhere, park a little further away than you need to – even just the far end of the car park adds a little extra activity
- take the stairs instead of the lift or walk up escalators when you get the chance
- try making the school run a school walk or school cycle a few times a week
Get into a routine
Every bit of extra activity you do matters, no matter how big or small. But the more you do, the more you benefit.
That’s why finding a way to make lasting changes and increase your activity levels in the long term can make a real difference to your life.
Here are 6 ways you can make a routine of being active.
Free exercise plans for beginners
As well as being generally more active, you could set aside a few days a week for more structured exercise.
The following plans are free and all designed for people who may not have been active for a while.
Before you start, think about where and on which days you’re going to exercise, and when in the day you can fit it in. A little prep can be the difference between getting going or making excuses not to.
Good luck – let’s do this!