There are lots of simple ways to add exercise into your day, and they can come from the most unexpected of places. Housework and gardening can help you squeeze in more moderate exercise, for example. Find out how else you could add more activity into your day in this post.
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Not doing enough exercise can shorten your lifespan by three to five years, according to Macmillan Cancer Support and Ramblers. Regular exercise can help manage weight, keep your muscles flexible, and even maintain collagen production as you get older, leading to healthier skin.
It also relieves stress, boosts energy levels, improves your confidence, can help you sleep better, and helps you maintain your independence as you grow older.
The NHS has produced statistics which show how much of a difference regular exercise could make to your health:
According to the government, you should aim to be active every day and do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week.
Moderate exercise is something that leaves you slightly out of breath and raises your heartrate. This could be 30 minutes five days a week, or you could break that down into three 10-minute sessions.
You should aim to do at least a couple of strength training sessions a week as well, such as weightlifting, heavy gardening, or exercises that use your body's weight as resistance (like yoga).
The good news is that being physically active doesn't have to mean joining an expensive gym or committing to running a marathon.
Nor do you have to go from zero to 150 minutes - it’s far better to start slowly and build up gradually as your fitness levels improve.
Small things - like taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to work or the next bus stop, gardening, playing with your children, and doing DIY and shopping (especially if you leave your car at home) all help to boost your activity levels.
Housework, for instance, is a great way to get moving - dusting, polishing, ironing, scrubbing, and vacuuming is great for boosting your heart rate.
You could also wash your car by hand or clean your own windows, either of which will get you moving more.
A regular brisk walk can improve your heart and circulation, help your lungs, lower your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Even if you can't manage a brisk walk, a gentle walk is still good for your bones, joints, and immune system. And it can boost your mood.
It could improve your social life, too, if you join a walking group or association such as Ramblers.
And, because walking is a low-impact exercise, it's much safer in terms of injury and accident risk, especially if you haven't exercised much lately.
Swimming has similar health benefits to walking, so it’s no wonder it’s the second most popular physical activity in the UK.
There’s no age barrier, and you can take things at your own pace. This may explain why swimming is so popular among middle-aged and older people.
Studies have also shown that swimming every day could protect against dementia.
If joint problems prevent you from walking, swimming is ideal because the water supports your weight and takes the pressure off your knees, hips, and spine.
Can’t swim? Most local authority swimming pools offer adult swimming lessons as well as aqua aerobics classes.
Dance doesn’t just keep you fit and healthy - it also gives you a more positive outlook on life! And it’s great fun.
Learning a new dance can help to keep your memory sharp. One report even claimed that dancing is associated with a lower risk of mental decline.
With ballroom, Latin, jive, disco, line dancing, ballet, and even belly dancing, there's a type of dance for everyone.
Check your local newspapers, Yellow Pages, and library for dance class listings in your area.
If you already have a bike, cycling is an easy way to exercise more.
It could save you money on petrol, too, since statistics show most car journeys are under a mile long (a distance that can easily be cycled in most cases).
Cycling is ideal for working your lower body and your cardiovascular system. It may also help reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
According to the British Heart Foundation, cycling for 20 miles or more a week reduces your risk of heart disease by half compared with a non-cyclist.
Cycling protects against obesity, too, since a moderate ride burns eight calories a minute.
According to experts, people who cycle regularly are as fit as those who are 10 years younger. It can be fun, too, especially if you get the whole family involved.
CTC, the national cycling charity, has more information on cycling, including important safety information.
Always check with your doctor, physician, or GP before starting to exercise, especially if you haven't been active for a while or if you have a medical condition.
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