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Fitness

Here’s some advice, videos and tools to help you get fit and lose weight.

However, you’re far more likely to succeed with some extra guidance and support – click here to find out about our free and friendly adult weight management services.

Call us now on 01473 22 92 92 or contact us via other means by clicking here

Bikes150 minutes your wayStep right up! It's the miracle cure we've all been waiting for.


Step right up! It's the miracle cure we've all been waiting for.

It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.

It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some. Its name? Exercise.

Click on the links below to find out if you're doing enough for your age:

Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence.

This is no snake oil. Whatever your age, there's strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life.

People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

Health benefits

Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems obvious that we should all be physically active. It's essential if you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life into old age.

It's medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

What counts?

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk but you can't sing the words to a song.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities are:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • playing doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower

Daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework don't count towards your 150 minutes. This is because the effort needed to do them isn’t hard enough to get your heart rate up.

A modern problem

People are less active nowadays, partly because technology has made our lives easier. We drive cars or take public transport. Machines wash our clothes. We entertain ourselves in front of a TV or computer screen. Fewer people are doing manual work, and most of us have jobs that involve little physical effort. Work, house chores, shopping and other necessary activities are far less demanding than for previous generations.

We move around less and burn off less energy than people used to. Research suggests that many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting down, at work, on transport or in their leisure time. People aged over 65 spend 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group. 

Sedentary lifestyles

Inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health.

Not only should you try to raise your activity levels, but you should also reduce the amount of time you and your family spend sitting down.

Common examples of sedentary behaviour include watching TV, using a computer, using the car for short journeys and sitting down to read, talk or listen to music – and such behaviour is thought to increase your risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity. 

“Previous generations were active more naturally through work and manual labour, but today we have to find ways of integrating activity into our daily lives,” says Dr Cavill.

Whether it's limiting the time babies spend strapped in their buggies, or encouraging adults to stand up and move frequently, people of all ages need to reduce their sedentary behaviour.

“This means that each of us needs to think about increasing the types of activities that suit our lifestyle and can easily be included in our day,” says Dr Cavill.

Crucially, you can hit your weekly activity target but still be at risk of ill health if you spend the rest of the time sitting or lying down. For tips on building physical activity and exercise into your day, whatever your age, read Get active your way.

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BikesWalking for health Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.

Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.

It's underrated as a form of exercise but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active.

Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers.

Use this guide to increase the amount of walking you do every week and maximise the health benefits.

Before you start

A pair of shoes is all the equipment you really need. Any shoes or trainers that are comfortable, provide adequate support and don't cause blisters will do.

Wear loose-fitting clothing that allows you to move freely. Choose thin layers rather than heavy, chunky clothing.

If you’re walking to work, you can just wear your usual work clothes with a comfy pair of shoes.

For long walks, you may want to take some water, healthy snacks, a spare top, sunscreen and a sunhat in a small backpack.

If you start taking regular, longer walks, you may want to invest in a waterproof jacket and some walking boots for more challenging routes.

Starting out

Start slowly and try to build your walking regime gradually. To get the health benefits from walking, it needs to be of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. In other words, it needs to be faster than a stroll.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity means you're walking fast enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. One way to tell is that you'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favourite song.

Try to walk 10,000 steps a day. Most of us walk between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day anyway, so reaching 10,000 isn't as daunting as it might sound.

If, to begin with, you can only walk fast for a couple of minutes, that's fine. Don't overdo it on your first day.

You can break up your activity into 10-minute chunks, as long as you're doing your activity at a moderate intensity.

Begin every walk slowly and gradually increase your pace. After a few minutes, if you’re ready, try walking a little faster. 

Towards the end of your walk, gradually slow down your pace to cool down. Finish off with a few gentle stretches, which will help improve your flexibility.

From walking to the shops or part of your journey to work, to walking the dog and organised group walks, try to make every step count.

Staying motivated

Make it a habit
The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit. Think of ways to include walking into your daily routine. Examples include: 

  • Walk part of your journey to work.
  • Walk to the shops.
  • Use the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Leave the car behind for short journeys.
  • Walk the kids to school.
  • Do a regular walk with a friend. 
  • Go for a stroll with family or friends after dinner.

If you live in a city, Walkit has an interactive walk planner to help you find the best walking route. Each suggested route includes your journey time, calorie burn, step count and carbon saving.

Mix it up
Add variety to your walks. You don’t have to travel to the countryside to find a rewarding walk. Towns and cities offer interesting walks including parks, heritage trails, canal towpaths, riverside paths, commons, woodlands, heaths and nature reserves. For ideas for inspiring walks, see Walk England

You can also track your walking, plan walks, set personal goals and save your favourite routes with the free My Get Walking tool. For wheelchair users and parents with buggies, visit Walks with wheelchairs.

Join a walking group
Walking in a group is a great way to start walking, make new friends and stay motivated. Walking for Health’s Walk Finder allows you to search for organised walks near you. Many of the walks are aimed at people who do little or no exercise, but who would like to become more active. The Ramblers' Get Walking Keep Walking website organises city walks for inactive people and those with health problems.

Get your boots on
Ramblers promotes walking for health, leisure and as a means for getting around to people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, in towns and cities as well as in the countryside. Its website has details of many locally organised walking groups, for all levels of fitness.

Set yourself a goal
You can walk 1,000 steps in around 10 minutes.  Pedometers are a fun way to keep track of your walking. Use a pedometer to work out your average daily steps and then start adding those extra steps. Find out how you can benefit from walking 10,000 steps on five or more days a week.



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BikesPhysical activity guidelines for adults How much physical activity do adults aged 19-64 years old need to do to keep healthy?


How much physical activity do adults aged 19-64 years old need to do to keep healthy?

To stay healthy or to improve health, adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.

How much physical activity you need to do each week depends on your age. Click on the links below for the recommendations for other age groups:

 

Physical activity for adults aged 19-64

 

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:

 

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and  

             muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a
             week that work all major muscle groups (legs, 
             hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). 

 

 

75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and

             muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a
             week that work all major muscle groups (legs, 
             hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). 

 

  

An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week (for example 2 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking), and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).   

 

What counts as moderate-intensity aerobic activity?
Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:

  • walking fast
  • water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • volleyball
  • basketball 

Moderate-intensity activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song. 

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What counts as vigorous-intensity aerobic activity?
Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity means 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.

In general, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

For a moderate to vigorous intensity workout, try Couch to 5K, a nine-week running plan for beginners.

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What counts as muscle-strengthening activity?
Muscle-strengthening exercises are counted in repetitions and sets. A repetition is 1 complete movement of an activity, like lifting a weight or doing a sit-up. A set is a group of repetitions.

For each activity, try to do 8 to 12 repetitions in each set. Try to do at least 1 set of each muscle-strengthening activity. You'll get even more benefits if you do 2 or 3 sets.

To get health benefits from muscle-strengthening activities, you should do them to the point where you struggle to complete another repetition.

There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or in the gym. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities for most people include:

  • lifting weights
  • working with resistance bands
  • doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance, such as push-ups and sit-ups
  • heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling
  • yoga

Try Strength and Flex, a five-week exercise plan for beginners to improve your strength and flexibility.

You can do activities that strengthen your muscles on the same day or on different days as your aerobic activity, whatever's best for you.

However, muscle-strengthening activities don't count towards your aerobic activity total, so you'll need to do them in addition to your aerobic activity.

Some vigorous-intensity aerobic activities may provide 75 minutes of aerobic activity and sufficient muscle-strengthening activity. Examples include circuit training and sports such as football or rugby.

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BikesThe importance of exercise as you get olderPhysical activity and exercise can help you stay healthy, energetic and independent as you get older.

Physical activity and exercise can help you stay healthy, energetic and independent as you get older.

Adults aged 65 and over spend on average 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down. This makes them the most sedentary age group.

They're paying a high price for their inactivity, with higher rates of falls, obesity, heart disease and early death compared with the general population.

As you get older, it's even more important that you remain active if you want to stay healthy and maintain your independence.

If you don't stay active, all the things you’ve always enjoyed doing and taken for granted start to become that little bit harder.

You may struggle to pursue simple pleasures, such as playing with the grandchildren, walking to the shops, leisure activities and meeting up with friends.

You might start to get aches and pains that you never had before, and have less energy to go out. You may also be more vulnerable to falling. 

This can all lead to being less able to look after yourself and do the things you enjoy.

Strong evidence

There's strong scientific evidence that people who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia.

If you want to stay pain-free, reduce your risk of mental illness, and be able to go out and stay independent well into old age, you need to keep moving.

It’s that simple. There are lots of ways you can get active, and it’s not just about exercising.

“As people get older and their bodies decline in function, physical activity helps to slow that decline,” says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant. “It’s important they remain active or even increase their activity as they get older.”

Most people as they get older want to keep in touch with society – their community, friends and neighbours – and being active is a way to ensure that they can keep doing that.

What is physical activity?

Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. It can include anything from walking to recreational sport.

The first thing to bear in mind as you get older is to keep moving. On a basic level, that means making sure you don’t spend hours on end sitting down during the day.

This means avoiding long periods of TV viewing, computer use, driving, and sitting to read, talk or listen to music. 

While some activity is better than none at all, to get the maximum health benefit, you should aim to do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.

Aim to do something every day, preferably in bouts of 10 minutes of activity or more. The more you do, the greater the health gains.

One way of achieving your weekly physical activity target is to do 30 minutes on at least five days a week.

On at least two days a week, activities should include those that strengthen muscles and bones, such as weight training, carrying heavy loads and heavy gardening.

Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities include:

  • walking fast
  • doing water aerobics
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • playing doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower

Daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework don't count towards your 150 minutes because the effort isn’t hard enough to raise your heart rate.

Find out more about how much activity older adults need to do to keep healthy.

Getting started

What you do will depend on your own circumstances, but as a guiding principle you should always do activities that you enjoy.

If you're already active, you may find it useful to know that you can reap the same health benefits from 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as running or singles tennis.

As a rule of thumb, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity can give similar health benefits as 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

Research shows that it’s never too late to adopt and reap the health benefits from a more active lifestyle. For example, older adults who are active will reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke to a similar level as younger people who are active.

If you've been inactive for a while, you don't have to rush into exercising. It's important to build up activity gradually to reach recommended levels.

You will still be improving your health in the process, and you'll reduce your risk of falls and other ailments.

“The biggest benefits come to those who start from scratch,” says Dr Cavill. “It’s moving from a sedentary lifestyle to a moderately active one that makes the biggest difference to your health. The more you do, the greater the health benefits.”

Click on the links below for more ideas on raising your activity levels:

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A smoker's tale (video)Exercise motivation (video)Keeping up the momentum when exercising for health rather than weight loss can be hard. See how others have managed to stay motivated.

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BikesWalking groups (video)Walking is good exercise and helps to prevent illnesses such as heart disease. Find out more about the Ramblers Association.

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BikesFitness self-assessment (tool)

Do you think you're doing enough physical activity? This simple assessment will help you understand what the recommended levels are and will assess how close you are to meeting them.

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BikesHealthy eating self-assessment (tool) Do you really know what eating healthily means? Find out whether you're a healthy eater or could improve your eating patterns. .

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