How to get active

The chances are, for many of us, the hours spent sitting in front of the computer or watching TV each week run into double figures. It’s amazing to think that just by taking two or three of those hours and using them to be active, you could lower your chance of developing Type 2 diabetes by 40%, cardiovascular disease by 35% and breast and colon cancers by 20%. And if that’s not a good enough reason to learn how to get active, exercise also promotes a healthy mind; when you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger positive feelings and make you feel happier!

Guidelines issued by the UK Chief Medical Officer suggest that adults and older adults should be taking part in 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise or 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (or a combination of both) per week.

So what’s the difference between vigorous and moderate exercise?

A good benchmark is your breathing – if it’s heavier than normal but you’re still able to talk then your exercise level is moderate. Great ways to achieve your moderate exercise goals are:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming

If your breathing is fast and talking is difficult then you’re exercising vigorously. Vigorous activities include:

  • Running
  • Climbing stairs
  • Playing racquet or fast-paced ball sports

Building strength and improving balance

As we grow older, good balance becomes really important because it prevents falls. Falls and fall-related injuries, such as hip fracture, can have a serious impact on an older person’s life. If you fall, it could limit your activities or make it impossible to live independently. Great activities that promote good balance AND count towards your exercise targets are:

  • Dancing
  • Tai chi
  • Bowls

Keeping our muscles and joints strong is also important. It’s estimated that at least half of the age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints are caused by inactivity. So keep strong and supple by:

  • Doing yoga
  • Carrying bags
  • Going to the gym

Something is always better than nothing. Just 10 minutes a day at first will help and give you the confidence to build up time, distance and intensity.

There are just too many great reasons to learn how to get active. If you’re already achieving your minutes per week, well done! You’re already improving your chances of living a long and healthy life and reducing your risk of diabetes. If not, then why not start today by taking a brisk walk – it’s as easy as that!

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