Author: Louise Irvine

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Friday, August 29th, 2008 at 12:45 pm
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Keep Fit Series

A beginner’s guide to a healthier lifestyle – part two

Part Two: How To Increase Your Activity Levels

The previous Beginner’s Guide focussed on setting realistic goals to make changes to lifestyle. This article describes ways in which you can meet your goals, suggesting possible first steps towards increasing your activity levels and creating a healthier you.

It is recommended that every adult participate in at least 30 minutes of activity every day. This doesn’t sound like much but the world we live in has provided us with so many labour saving devices that it is easy for a day to pass without ever having exerted any physical effort. The 30 minutes can be accumulated as you go through your day so it doesn’t need to be a big effort all at once. The activity should make you feel warm and slightly out of breath for it to count. A good idea is to keep a diary as this will help you keep track of how many minutes you are managing each day.

The main message about becoming more active is that you don’t have to be sporty to do it. It is not essential that you join a gym or running club to improve your activity levels. For most people that are new to exercise, small changes in your everyday life can make a big difference to how you feel. The great thing about exercise is that the more you do, the more energy you have and the more you will want to do!

Walking is one of the simplest ways to become more active. It’s free and it’s something that we can easily do more of in our daily lives.

  • Walk to work, if it’s not too far
  • Park your car at the furthest end of the car park
  • Get off the bus a stop early
  • If you have children, walk them to school, this will help their exercise levels as well as your own
  • Walk in work instead of phoning someone or emailing them.
  • Use stairs whenever you can - do not use the escalator or lift!
  • Use your lunch time to go for a walk – see if a colleague will join you.
  • Try to walk around when on your mobile phone
  • Don’t watch the adverts during breaks in your programmes – get up and walk around to avoid the tempting food advertisements

Pedometer
A good target for walking is to get yourself a pedometer. A pedometer is a cheap and simple gadget costing as little as £12 from Field and Trekthat clips onto your belt and counts how many steps you do each day.  Experts recommend building up to doing 10,000 steps a day – but just aim to do a bit more than you do at the moment.

Gradually build up your activity levels, then keep up the good work - because staying fit means staying active.

Staying active can include many things such as gardening, cycling, jogging or going to a local fitness class. For some, joining a fitness class is the best option as taking part in a more structured activity like a dance class or a gym session a few times a week may be the most practical way of keeping fit and building activity into a daily routine.

The variety of fitness opportunities out there is incredible and it is a good way to meet new people as well as getting active. If you are looking for intense exercise, then a Bootcamp style class might be of interest, and for those of you who are looking for a more gentle approach Pilates may be a good place to start.

It is important to remember the reasons why exercise is so important If you are currently inactive then you are doubling your chances of heart disease. Exercise is also great for lowering stress levels. It can help you keep the weight off and lower your risk of developing major chronic diseases.

Remember

Although 30mins is the recommended minimum for many people, up to 60 minutes of moderate activity a day may be necessary to maintain a healthy weight.

The health benefits of physical activity are lost within 100 days of stopping exercise.

The only thing you have to do now is start to make the small changes that will make a big difference!

Next time…
A Beginner’s Guide To A Healthy Lifestyle – Part Three: A Healthy Diet.

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