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Physical activity: Key messages

Physical activity can reduce the risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to 50%.  It can also lower the risk of early death by up to 30% and help maintain a healthy weight or aid in weight loss.

Adults need to be active for at least 150 minutes every week and this can be in moderate intensity bouts as short as 10 to 30 minutes.  Being active doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym, there are many ways to include physical activity into daily life, such as brisk walking or mowing the lawn, it's just important to avoid extended inactive periods, where possible.

What do the intensity levels mean?

Moderate intensity activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat.  One way to tell if you're working at a moderate level, is if you can still talk but are unable to sing the words to a song.

Vigorous intensity activity means working hard enough to get warmer, breathe much harder and for your heart to beat rapidly.  You'd find it more difficult to carry on a conversation at this level.  If you're vigorously active, you can achieve your recommended physical activity levels within 75 minutes, spread across the week.

In addition, adults should also try to undertake activities which strengthen muscles on at least two days a week, such as yoga or even just carrying heavy shopping!

Little changes can make a difference...

  • Cycle or walk part, if not all, of your journey to work, school or college

  • Get off the bus one stop before your final destination

  • If you have to drive, try to park further away from your destination and walk the rest of the way

  • Hold a 'walk and talk' meeting with a colleague, instead of sitting in the office

  • Stand while talking on the phone

  • Walk over to someone's desk at work rather than sending an e-mail

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift or get off a few floors early and walk the rest of the way

  • Walk up / along an escalator rather than standing still

Examples to suggest...

  • Go for a brisk walk during lunchtime

  • Aim to reach 10,000 steps a day

  • Find different walks / routes and alternate between them throughout the week

  • Exercise before / after work or during lunchtime, such as going to the gym or for a swim

  • Join a local Couch to 5K Group or Park Run

How to give advice...

Additional information

Take a look at the being active page on the Talk Community Directory, where you can also download a copy of the physical activity leaflet.


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