Your Exercise and Your Routine

People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy.

Getting Active

Exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer and lower your risk of early death. It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some.

Staying Active

To stay healthy, adults should try to be active daily and should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week. Or, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week. Or try a mix!

Physical activity for adults


Physical activity?

Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. It can include anything from walking to recreational sport. The first thing to bear in mind as you get older is to keep moving. On a basic level, that means making sure you don't spend hours on end sitting down during the day.

This means avoiding long periods of TV viewing, computer use, driving, and sitting to read, talk or listen to music. One way of achieving your weekly physical activity target is to do 30 minutes on at least five days a week. On at least two days a week, activities should include those that strengthen muscles and bones, such as weight training, carrying heavy loads and heavy gardening.

Daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework don't count towards your 150 minutes because the effort isn't hard enough to raise your heart rate.

To stay healthy, adults should try to be active daily and should do:

At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week

or

75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week,

and

muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

What counts as moderate-intensity aerobic activity?

Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:

  • hiking
  • skateboarding
  • rollerblading
  • volleyball
  • basketball

What counts as vigorous-intensity aerobic activity?

Examples of activities that require vigorous effort for most people include:

  • jogging or running
  • swimming fast
  • riding a bike fast or on hills
  • singles tennis
  • football
  • rugby
  • skipping rope
  • hockey
  • aerobics
  • gymnastics
  • martial arts

The importance of exercise as you get older


Some adults spend on average 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down. They're paying a high price for their inactivity, with higher rates of falls, obesity, heart disease and early death compared with the general population. As you get older, it's even more important that you remain active if you want to stay healthy and maintain your independence. If you stop moving, all the things you've always enjoyed doing and taken for granted start to become that little bit harder.

You may struggle to pursue simple pleasures, such as playing with the grandchildren, walking to the shops, leisure activities and meeting up with friends.

You might start to get aches and pains that you never had before, and have less energy to go out. You may also be more vulnerable to falling. This can all lead to being less able to look after yourself and do the things you enjoy.

People who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

As people get older and their bodies decline in function, physical activity helps to slow that decline. It's important they remain active or even increase their activity as they get older.

Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant

Most people as they get older want to keep in touch with society - their community, friends and neighbours - and being active is a way to ensure that they can keep doing that.


Exercise and taking the preventive medication provided as part of the Polypill Prevention Programme helps to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

More about Blood Pressure » More about Cholesterol » Online consultation