It is no secret, moving your body and regularly raising your heart rate is essential to having a healthy body and mind. Research shows that people who exercise frequently have a much lower risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even certain types of cancer.

Exercise can help to burn off excess calories and fat, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which are the precursors for many diseases. Research also shows that regular exercise can help to lower stress and boost self-esteem – often with the results seen within a few weeks of starting regular exercise. For example, if you start walking for 20 minutes on a regular basis, at first it may be very difficult for you to keep going for the full 20 minutes but over the course of a few weeks it will start to become easier. This is because you are developing stamina and your body is getting stronger.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), a watchdog, have issued guidelines for the optimum amount of exercise individuals should aim for (subject to your age and ability).

  • Adults aged 19-64 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity a week. The exercises can be spread evenly across the week.
  • Strengthening exercises that work all the major muscle groups (i.e. legs, hips, abdomen, back, chest, shoulders and arms) at least 2 times per week.

Moderate aerobic activity is any activity during which your heart rate rises above the resting rate. Usually, you can have a conversation during moderate intensity activity but not be able to sing. Examples are brisk walking, riding a bike, dancing, hiking, tennis etc.

Vigorous aerobic activity is high intensity and makes your heart rate rise a lot higher. When exercising at this level you will not be able to have a conversation without pausing to catch your breath. Examples include running, swimming, riding a bike fast, walking up the stairs, aerobics and group sports like football, rugby, and hockey.

Please note: The information provided is not intended to be used as a replacement for medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider before making any significant changes to your lifestyle.



UK Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines, 2020. www.gov.uk NICE guidelines www.nice.org.uk

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