So Doctor, how much exercise should I take?

For children, adults and older people, the UK Government Physical Activity guidelines are clear…

Produced for the Chief Medical Officers for all of our four countries after evaluating the literature and evidence we now know that adults should:

  • Over the course of a week, take 150mins of moderate activity. This could be 5x30mins or accrued in 10 minute bursts throughout the day and week. Moderate level activities include dancing, cycling and brisk walking at a level that makes one warm but does not stop a conversation.
  • Alternatively, take 75 minutes of vigorous activity throughout the week with activities such as running, squash and swimming.
  • Also include strength training at least twice a week.

Our health will improve with exercise but equally important is avoidance of sedentary activities such as lying, sitting and driving. We now know that being sedentary is bad for our health – so get up and move about. Standing at a desk, having a walking meeting or eating lunch on the move will all contribute to a sense of well-being and improved long-term health.

Ask yourself a simple question: can I avoid sitting or lying for less than 23 1/2 hours a day? We know this may sound crazy but for many people this is reality and inactivity has significant adverse health effects.

Studies have specifically linked ill-health with more time sitting in front of the television or computer screen. We strongly recommend trying to build walking into your day as a simple and enjoyable way of improving your activity levels and sense of well-being. Other simple everyday activities such as an active commute, cycling, gardening, dancing and house work all count and are to be encouraged.

For those over 64 years of age the recommendations are broadly the same but activities that enhance coordination and balance are also advised such as Pilates, Yoga or Tai chi. Any simple measure that reduces the likelihood of falls and enhances independent living makes sense.

So why bother? The health gains from physical activity reduce a range of common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Exercise does not cause arthritis and for osteoarthritis can help maintain muscle strength, balance and coordination thus enhancing mobility.

Being physically active on a daily basis also helps control weight although it is good to remember that you're better off being somewhat overweight and physically active than lean and sedentary. Regular physical activity has powerful effects on self-esteem, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise has been referred to as the ‘best buy in public health' reflecting its ability to improve our health and well-being at a low cost to society.

So we challenge you to become more physically active and less sedentary. Should you become ill or injured there are Sport and Exercise medicine physicians well trained and equipped to help you. Visit our Sports Injuries Clinic to find out more.

Written by:

Prof Mark E Batt
Sport & Exercise Medicine Physician
BMI The Park Hospital and Nottingham University Hospitals
Nottingham

Dr Philip Bell
Sport & Exercise Medicine Physician
BMI The Paddocks Clinic and BMI The Chiltern Hospital, Buckinghamshire.

To book your consultation call us on 0808 101 0337.

  • Man Men's Health Discover engaging articles dedicated to male health. This includes advice, trends and interviews with our top male health Consultants.
  • Woman Women's Health Stay on top of your health with our tips, advice and Q&A’s with leading women’s health Consultants.
  • Consultant Consultant Q&As Read the interviews with some of our leading consultants.
  • Man Men's Health Discover engaging articles dedicated to male health. This includes advice, trends and interviews with our top male health Consultants.
  • Woman Women's Health Stay on top of your health with our tips, advice and Q&A’s with leading women’s health Consultants.
  • Consultant Consultant Q&As Read the interviews with some of our leading consultants.