This is no ordinary time, and we’re all facing huge challenges and changes but one thing remains the same – the importance of staying physically active.
Regular exercise and physical activity promote strong muscles and bones. It improves respiratory, cardiovascular health, and overall health. Staying active can also help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and reduce your risk for some cancers.
According to the NHS website, exercise is the miracle cure we've always had, but for too long we've neglected to take our recommended dose.
To stay healthy, adults should try to be active every day and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities.
For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make activity part of everyday life, like walking or cycling instead of using the car to get around. However, the more you do, the better, and taking part in activities such as sports and exercise will make you even healthier. For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer. This level of effort is called moderate intensity activity. If you're working at a moderate intensity you should still be able to talk but you won't be able to sing the words to a song.
An activity where you have to work even harder is called vigorous intensity activity. There is substantial evidence that vigorous activity can bring health benefits over and above that of moderate activity. You can tell when it's vigorous activity because you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
Focus on what you want to do
Being active is also about finding out what activity works for you. It doesn’t have to be a fully-fledged personal training programme, but just focusing on what you want to do a bit more or less of each day can make a difference.
By being active, you will burn calories that you store from eating throughout the day and—it can be as easy as walking the dog or as rigorous as running a marathon. Providing opportunities for children to be active early on puts them on a path to better physical and mental health. It's never too late to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle.
Many people find that being active fits naturally into spending time with those they live with such as family, housemates, and pets and this helps with keeping motivated.
Being active together
Being active with others has social and mental health benefits, and some people simply find it more fun. When exercising outdoors, remember to follow all current government COVID-19 health protection advice, including practicing social distancing at all times. Exercising over a video call is another great way to stay active with others, but remotely – so you get all the benefits of moving and being connected to other people, while still practicing social distancing and protecting your health. And there’s no restriction on who you can get active with online – you can get moving with friends, family that don’t live with you, and even your work colleagues.
Digital tools to help you move
Some tools have been designed to track the activities you already do. Public Health England is encouraging adults to download the free 'Active 10' app to help complete your 10 minutes of brisk walking daily and to gradually build this up to multiple 'Active 10s'. The app is the first of its kind to show how much brisk walking you're doing and when you are doing this at a high enough intensity and long enough to get health benefits. Download the app here.
Additionally, why not try the Couch to 5K app. Whatever tool you choose, you should still take care to follow current health guidelines.
What have you been doing to maintain your fitness and stay active during the lockdown? Why not drop us a message via our social media platforms, and let us know.
Finding an activity that works for you
You may have grown up loving sport, or you may prefer to get moving by doing a fun activity instead. Happily, there are options out there that may work for you depending on how you are able to move. If you have a health condition, the symptoms of your condition may mean you have to undertake activities you used to do in a more modified way, or else try something new.
So, whether is walking for a set amount of time at lunch time, or 10-minute seated yoga workout or gardening - set yourself a new routine and build in new habits. Repeat the bits you enjoy daily and keep trying new activities that inspire and motivate you.
Published on 26 June 2020