What are the benefits of regular exercise?
Regular exercise improves your suppleness, strength and stamina. It keeps you flexible, keeps your 600+ muscles in shape and keeps your heart and lungs healthy.
It also has many health benefits. It may reduce the risk of conditions such as:
- coronary heart disease
- certain cancers
It can also:
- have a positive effect on osteoporosis
- control your blood pressure
- reduce your stress levels
- reduce and maintain your weight
British Heart Foundation website
How much and what type of exercise should I do?
It is recommended that you spend 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week doing moderate exercise (eg brisk walking). If you are inactive over a long period of time you run the risk of a number of health problems. Being physically active not only makes you feel and look better, it has many benefits for your health.
The best type of exercise is something that you really enjoy and can fit into your daily routine. If you enjoy exercising you will find it easier to keep active. When you're starting a new exercise programme, you should gradually increase the amount of exercise you do.
To make sure that you're exercising sensibly, always follow these guidelines:
- warm up first with gentle bends and stretches, and cool down afterwards by slowing the pace or walking slowly for a few minutes
- stop if you experience pain, dizziness or unusual fatigue, or feel sick or unwell
- work hard enough to make yourself feel a bit sweaty and out of breath, but not enough to be uncomfortable
- leave an hour after heavy meals before exercising
- choose sensible, comfortable clothes and strong footwear
If you have an existing medical condition, are recovering from surgery or illness or are pregnant, then you should speak to your GP about what exercise you should be doing.
Sport England website
Are there any programmes available that can help me to begin exercising?
There are a number of programmes available to people who want to become more physically active – contact the Health Promotion Department for more information.
The Walking the Way to Health Initiative (WHI) aims to get more people walking in their own communities, especially those who take little exercise. The Health Promotion Department runs a local scheme.
Organised walks to improve your health
The Walking the Way to Health Initiative website
Download Physical Activity - a guide to better health factsheet (size 447kb)