It is recommended that adults with no health conditions do at least 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day. Moderate-intensity exercise means working enough to feel warm and out of breath. This can include activities such as brisk walking, cycling on level ground and even mowing the lawn.

To increase and maintain muscle tone, which helps with mobility and coordination, muscle strengthening exercise should be done twice a week. Muscle strengthening exercises improve balance, which can help to prevent falls. Muscle strengthening exercises can include carrying shopping, dancing and yoga.

If you are generally healthy and do not suffer from any heart problems or problems with your bones or joints, you can gradually increase your exercise levels without consulting your doctor. If you are not very active or have any worries about your health you should talk to your GP before embarking on an exercise regime.

Benefits of exercise

Keeping fit and active has numerous health benefits. 

  • It lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease such as coronary heart disease by 20-30%.
  • People who are moderately active have a 30-40% lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes than those who have a sedentary lifestyle.
  • There is a 30% lower risk of developing colon cancer and a 20% lower risk of breast cancer for adults participating in regular physical activity.
  • Higher amounts of activity can improve muscle function, reduce bone loss, improve balance and flexibility and have a beneficial effect on blood pressure.
  • Exercising for more than 3 hours a week halves the risk of osteoporosis and heart attack when compared to a sedentary person of the same age.
  • Physical activity reduces the risk of depression and cognitive decline in older adults; there is approximately a 20-30% lower risk for developing depression for those who undertake daily physical activity.
  • Engaging in physical activity can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and increase levels of confidence and feelings of well-being and control.

Time

You do not necessarily need to set aside a special time to get more active. Activity can quite easily be introduced as part of your daily routine. Try getting off the bus a few stops earlier and walking the rest of the way, use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator or walk to the local shops.

Sport

You do not need to be good at sport to get more active. Activities such as walking, dancing and gardening are all good forms of exercise.