Health and fitness

Being active and exercising regularly are key to having a healthy heart and keeping your weight within a healthy range. A great goal is aiming to be active in as many ways as possible throughout the day, and reduce the amount of time spent sitting for long periods.

Why should I be active?

Your heart is a muscle and needs exercise to help keep it fit so that it can pump blood efficiently around your body. Without regular physical activity, the body slowly loses its strength, stamina and ability to function well.

Lifelong physical activity is important for:

  • Preventing heart disease
  • Lowering your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke
  • Helping to fight the battle to quit smoking
  • Aiding cardiac rehabilitation
  • Establishing good heart healthy habits in children
  • Building stronger immunity
  • Reducing blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure
  • Helping to reduce stress, tension, depression and anxiety
  • Helping to control weight
  • Improving overall health and wellbeing, prolonging your optimal health.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”

Mark Twain

Physical activity guidelines for adults

To stay healthy or improve health, adults need to do 2 types of physical activity each week: aerobic and strength exercises.

What counts as aerobic activity?

Exercise doesn’t have to be sweating it out in the gym or pounding the pavements on a huge run. Exercise can include every day, fun activities that you already enjoy like walking, water aerobics, riding a bike, swimming or running around with your kids/grand kids.

Aerobic activity should raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.

What counts as strength exercise?

Strength training doesn’t have to be lifting heavy weights in a gym. You can use your body weight as resistance. With body weight training you need minimal equipment (or none at all), and you can train from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home, in a hotel, at a playground, in your office at work, or traveling around the world, as long as you have enough space to move around, you can get your workout done (and fit it into a busy schedule).

Body weight exercises include things like squats, push ups, lunges, star jumps and sit ups.

How much exercise?

Children and young people (5-18)

It’s important for children and young people to keep active and to grow up strong and healthy into adulthood by doing exercises that strengthen bones and muscles.

To maintain a basic level of health, children and young people aged 5 to 18 need to do at least 60 minutes of aerobic activity every day – this can be anything from cycling, walking, skateboarding or swimming. On 3 days a week, these activities should involve exercises for strong muscles, such as football, gymnastics, or climbing, and exercises for strong bones, such as dancing, aerobics and tennis.

The best way to achieve 60 minutes of aerobic activity each day is to build it in to your daily routine. Try walking or cycling to school, playground games at break times, and activities or sports at weekends.

Adults (19-64)

To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be physically active every day and aim for one of the following:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

Older people (65+)

To keep active over the age of 65 and improve your health, you need to do two types of physical activity – aerobic and strength exercise. Try to be active every day and do one of the following:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)
  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)
  • a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30-minute runs, plus 30 minutes of fast walking, equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

More information

For more information on health and fitness, visit Health Navigator here.