What’s physical activity? Sounds straightforward enough but let’s look at how we know which is best for us and how much we should be doing.
To answer our first question: physical activity is defined as movement of the body that uses energy. Public Health England gives us guidance on the different types and how much to do. Let’s take a closer look.
This covers activities like swimming, walking, running, cycling and sport. They all involve continuous, rhythmic movements that work our heart, lungs and circulatory system. Aerobic activity can help lower blood pressure and reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Aim to do either 150 mins a week of moderate effort (this means your breathing increases but can still hold a conversation) or 75 mins a week of vigorous effort (this means your breathing is much faster and you’d have trouble having a conversation). Or you could combine the two and do 30 mins a day. Pick what suits you best.
Muscle and bone strengthening
This covers activities like bodyweight exercise, lifting weights or carrying heavy bags. It’s important to keep our muscles strong to support our skeletal system so we can do everyday tasks like carrying and lifting without getting injured. A bonus is that healthy muscle mass supports our metabolism too! Weight bearing activity is key to reducing our risk of breaks and osteopenia as we age. Aim for twice a week.
Balance and flexibility
This covers activities like yoga, tai chi, dance and bowls. Keeping your body agile and flexible is important, especially as we age, to help stave off injuries and reduce your risk of falls and fractures. You’ll also support your cognitive function. Aim for twice a week.
We hope reading more about the different types of activity and their benefits has inspired you to get moving. Remember – it doesn’t matter where you start, it all counts, and everybody has to start somewhere. You have so much to gain and nothing to lose!