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The importance of exercise

There are many reasons why physical activity is good for your body – having a healthy heart and improving your joints and bones are just two.

But did you know that physical activity is also beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing?

We need to change the way we view physical activity from being something we "have to / ought to do" to something we do because we personally value the positive benefits to our wellbeing.

What is physical activity?

It doesn’t have to mean going to the gym – at a basic level it just means movement of your body that uses muscles and expends energy – so there are endless possibilities to suit all.

The average adult should do between 75 and 150 minutes of exercise a week – any activity that raises your heart rate; makes you breath faster; makes you feel warmer – counts towards exercise. It can include:

  • Daily physical activity: i.e. work activity; walking to bus; stairs

  • Exercise i.e. Purposeful activity improving health/fitness

  • Play i.e. Un-structured fun activity

  • Sport i.e. Structured & Competitive activities. Team or individual

What impact does physical activity have on wellbeing?

Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing.

Even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood.

Regular physical activity can increase self-esteem; reduce stress and anxiety; and reduces the risk of health problems.

Physical activity is available to all, has few costs attached, and is an empowering approach to support self-management.

Where do I start?

  • Aim to do 30 minutess a day five times a week – make time! – make it part of your daily life

  • Think about what else you want to get out of being active apart from improving your physical and mental wellbeing

  • Ask yourself do you prefer being indoors or out

  • Do you want to do a group or individual activity; alone or with a friend

  • Think outside the box – housework or gardening is physical activity and may be more appealing than the gym!

  • Be practical – get support from those around you

  • Start slowly and build up; set goals to measure progress.

For me I purchased a step tracker a few years ago, I measured my footstep distance and now aim each year to do at least 1000 miles per year. I may be at a PC much of the day, but I still:

  • park as far away as I can from the door to the building

  • use the lift when possible

  • walk fast when I can so it is more relevant

  • walk as much as possible at weekends / evenings / bank holidays


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