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Get active

Young man playing footballExercise is good for you – it also helps you feel better. 

If you keep active, you are:

  • less likely to be depressed, anxious or tense
  • more likely to feel good about yourself
  • more likely to concentrate and focus better
  • more likely to sleep better
  • more likely to cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms if you try to give up a habit such as smoking or alcohol
  • more likely to be able to keep mobile and independent as you get older
  • possibly less likely to have problems with memory and dementia.

But don’t worry if you’re not doing enough: it isn’t too late to start building a bit more physical activity into your daily life now. And the good thing is that even a small change can boost your morale, give you a sense of achievement and help you to feel better in yourself.

How active?

Aim to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. It may sound like a lot, but it isn’t as daunting as it first appears. Moderate exercise means being energetic enough so you: 

  • Breathe a little heavier than normal, but aren’t out of breath
  • Feel warmer, but don’t end up hot and sweaty

You don’t have to leap in at the full amount. Build up slowly at a pace that suits you.

Top tips

Adopting a more active lifestyle can be as simple as doing daily tasks more energetically or making small changes to your routine. Here are a few suggestions to help get you up and a bit more active .

At home: 
  • Walk the children or grandchildren to school, then jog home
  • Push the mower with extra vigour
  • Get an exercise DVD – and use it!
  • Speed up the housework – vac harder and faster until you’re warm
  • Put on some music for a ten minute dance
  • When you do get a break, go for a swim.
At work: 
  • Time your daily walks to and from the train station. Can you go faster?
  • Ditch the lift for journeys less than four floors
  • Don’t pick up the phone, walk to see a colleague
  • Use your lunch hour – take a brisk walk, do an exercise class or go for a swim
  • Walk or cycle a slightly longer route home – the change of scenery will do you good, too
  • Stop at the gym on your way home.
Out and about: 
  • Leave the car at home for short journeys
  • Get off the bus a stop earlier, or get on a stop later
  • Park at the far end of the supermarket car park, or walk to the shops
  • Walk the dog – jog ten paces, then walk ten
  • Join an exercise class at your community centre – and meet your neighbours.


Visit the Health and Fitness pages on the NHS Choices website for lots of information and good advice to help you get more fit and active in the way that best suits you.


Last updated: 30 May 2012

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