Regular physical activity has many health benefits:
- Reduces the risk of dying prematurely
- Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease
- Reduces the risk of developing diabetes
- Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure
- Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of developing bowel cancer
- Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety
- Helps control weight
- Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints
- Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.
Sedentary behaviour is sitting or lying down for extended periods. Even if you are physically active you also need to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting for extended periods in order to maintain good health.
Benefits of being active
To get the most benefit from physical activity we should aim to do ‘moderate intensity’ physical activities. These activities will cause us to get warmer and breathe harder and our hearts to beat faster, but still enable you to carry on a conversation. Examples include brisk walking, cycling, and dancing or playground games for children.
‘Vigorous intensity’ physical activities will cause us to get warmer and breathe much harder and our hearts to beat rapidly, making it more difficult to carry on a conversation. Examples include running, swimming or sports such as football.
Physical activities that strengthen muscles are also important. These involve using all the major muscle groups by body weight or working against a resistance. Examples include exercising with weights or carrying or moving heavy loads such as groceries
How physically active do we need to be?
The Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines (2011) emphasise that we should aim to be active every day in order to maintain good health.
For more information on guidelines for specific age groups click here.
Click on the images below for infographics explaining the guidelines for different groups.
Babies and Children
Children and Young People
Adults and Older Adults
Adults with a Disability
Key Physical Activity Messages
- Sit less – move more
- Aim to build up to at least 10,00 steps a day
- Be active every day to benefit your health & well-being
- Some physical activity is better than none
- It is never too late to start being active
- Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits
- Greater health benefits can be achieved by increasing the amount (duration, frequency, or intensity) of physical activity