Pandemic lockdowns have deprived many of us of our normal
levels of activity, resulting in a general decline in our wellbeing. This is
unsurprising: there is very strong evidence that being physically active is
good for you.
Reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart
disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and
colon cancer), and depression;
Reduce the risk of falls as well as hip or
vertebral fractures; and
Help maintain a healthy body weight.
Be Active, another of the evidence-based Five Ways to
Wellbeing, is what psychologists call a ‘protective factor’ – it’s a fantastic,
proactive self-care activity that makes you more resilient in the short and
long-term. It’s another way you can Choose You.
With WHO and Public
Health England (PHE) data suggesting that both adults and adolescents
aren’t getting enough physical activity, the key is getting started and making your
activity sustainable. Whether it’s running, walking, cycling, lifting weights,
yoga, swimming, dancing, gardening, playing in the park with your children,
tidying up, or something else, the ‘secret’ is to discover activities that you
genuinely enjoy (at least most of the time) and can sustain.
Unless you’re a performance focused athlete,
make being active a healthy pursuit – as a rough guide, about 80% of your activity
time should be easy. Occasional, higher intensity activity is okay, but don’t
overwhelm yourself and turn being active into something your brain looks to
avoid. PHE’s ‘One You’ physical activity campaign promotes just 10 minutes of
daily continuous brisk walking.
Enjoy being active – turn it into ‘play’, so you’re
more likely to be consistent. Be active with others. Join in with your kids.
Try something you haven’t done before. Join Parkrun (you can walk it!). Do a Couch to 5K
programme. Find a fun challenge to keep you motivated. How about entering the
Cardiff Half Marathon?
Keep moving! Being active means getting your
muscles firing and expending energy. Every little moment of activity really
does help. Try to notice when you’ve been sedentary and then move. Stand up.
Stretch. Walk to another room. Go and cwtch your dog or cat. Visit a colleague.
Step outside. Try to imitate Usain Bolt’s ‘Bolting’ pose. Or, standing upright,
chest lifted, head held high, spread your arms wide in a power pose and notice
how good it feels (do this now!). Have a quick dance in the kitchen or your
office! The important thing is that you move. It’s good for you!
Try to ensure that your activity and its
intensity are appropriate to your current fitness level. If you’re starting out
or you have any health concerns, always speak to your GP.
You can find
further guidance on being active, including recommendations on how much
physical activity to take, on the NHS Livewell website.