Embarking on an exercise journey is not just about shedding pounds; it's a holistic approach to well-being. The benefits to our physical and mental health are vast, but how do we know what is enough exercise and where do we even start? In this blog, we’ll outline the benefits of physical activity, and how you can begin to include it in your life for a healthier, happier you.
Why is Physical Activity Important?1
Regular physical activity provides immediate and long-term health benefits. These may include:
- Improved brain health.
- Reduced risk of disease e.g. type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer.
- Strengthened bones and muscles.
- Improved ability to complete day-to-day activities.
- Improved sleep quality.
- Reduced high blood pressure.
- Reduced arthritis pain and associated disability.
- Reduced risk for osteoporosis and falls.
- Reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Support for losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight (for more information see our Benefits of Exercise blog).
How Much Physical Activity Do I Need?1
The exact amount of physical activity needed to maintain a healthy weight varies greatly from person to person as it is dependent on so many factors.
It is recommended that to maintain your weight you should aim to work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. This could be brisk walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, or you could try swimming laps for 25 minutes, 3 times a week, for a more vigorous form of exercise. However, this is a recommendation, and it’s important to adapt this to what feels right for you.
In order to lose weight, you may need to do more physical activity. Through the development of a balanced lifestyle, you should look to include exercise and maintain a healthy diet which promotes positive changes and leaves you feeling satisfied.
What Do Moderate- and Vigorous Intensity Mean?1
Moderate intensity refers to exercise which causes an increase in breathing and heart rate, however you can maintain a conversation. This might include:
- Walking briskly (roughly 15 minutes per mile).
- Light garden work (sweeping leaves or using a lawn mower).
- Actively playing with children.
- Biking at a casual pace.
Taking it up a level, vigorous intensity refers to exercise which causes a substantial increase to your heart and breathing rate, making conversation difficult. This may include:
- Jogging or running.
- Swimming laps.
- Team sports such as football and rugby.
Activity: Starting to Exercise for the First Time
Download our How to Start Exercise Worksheet to set yourself up for exercise achievement through planning and understanding what will work for you the best!
Remember, physical activity is about more than just losing weight and burning calories, it’s about making exercise a sustainable part of your lifestyle. Exercise should be something that you enjoy and leaves you feeling good. If dancing around the house or kicking around a football with your kids is what brings you joy, then get yourself involved! As part of your weight loss journey it’s important to reflect on the new activities you can engage in, rather than just focusing on the number on the scale.
- NHS, Physical activity guidelines for adults aged 19 to 64, 2021, Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-guidelines/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults-aged-19-to-64/#:~:text=Adults%20should%20aim%20to%3A,vigorous%20intensity%20activity%20a%20week