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Physical activity to keep you healthy
No matter how old you are, introducing regular physical activity into your daily life can improve your overall health, ease stress, and improve sleep! The NHS recommends adults should do some type of physical activity every day. Exercising just once or twice a week can reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.
Speak to your GP first if you have not exercised for some time, or if you have medical conditions or concerns. Make sure your activity and its intensity are appropriate for your fitness.
Adults should aim to:
- do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity spread evenly over 4 to 5 days a week, or every day
Moderate 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 level is if you can still talk but not sing.
Examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike, dancing, pushing a lawn mower, and hiking.
You should also:
- reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity
- do strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) at least 2 days a week
To get health benefits from strength exercises, you should do them to the point where you need to rest before repeating the activity. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include:
- carrying heavy shopping bags
- tai chi
- lifting weights
- working with resistance bands
- doing exercises that use your own body weight such as push-ups and sit ups
- heavy gardening
- lifting and carrying children
- wheeling a wheelchair
If you are new to exercising, the NHS choices website has a digital fitness studio with some helpful instructor-led videos, covering aerobics, strength and resistance, pilates, and yoga.
The NHS website also has a BMI (body mass index) calculator which can help you find out if you're a healthy weight. You can also use it to check your child's BMI.
Don't forget to always consult your GP or healthcare professional before beginning any exercise or diet programme.
We have a number of activities that are available to the residents of Barking and Dagenham free of charge or for a very low attendance fee.
Community Physical Activity Programme 2023 (PDF, 237KB)