Stay active – stay healthy

In February 2016, Peterborough City Council launched the first of a series of themed campaigns to help the city and surrounding rural areas to better health. This time, we look at the importance of staying active, and discover that fitting some physical activity into your day may be easier than you think...

Being active is really good for your body, mind and health – and yet only a little over half of adults in Peterborough keep active – doing more than 150 minutes moderate physical activity every week. For some this may seem a lot but you can start small and build up gradually – just 10 minutes at a time can be really good for you, and if you can find a way of being active that you enjoy you’re more likely to keep it up. Make a start today. It’s never too late.

Get moving now
Find a way of being active that you enjoy and you’re more likely to keep it up. Get your heart beating faster and your lungs working harder for at least 10 minutes at a time. Try going for a brisk walk in the park or a bike ride, or even dancing to the radio. Building activity into your day keeps your heart healthy, reduces your risk of serious illness and strengthens muscles and bones. It can also be a great way of reducing your stress levels and lifting your mood if you’re feeling down.

Sit less
Find ways to be more active each day. Start with reducing the amount of time you spend sitting down – get up, stretch your legs more often and do more steps each day. Take the stairs whenever you can and go on a brisk walk to the shops instead of driving.

Build strength
To stay healthy or to improve health, adults need to do two types of physical activity each week: aerobic and strength exercises. Building your strength helps keep your muscles, bones and joints strong. Muscle strength is necessary for all daily movement, to build and maintain strong bones, to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and to help maintain a healthy weight. Examples of muscle-strengthening activities include carrying or moving heavy loads such as groceries, stepping and jumping such as dancing, heavy gardening such as digging or shovelling and exercises such as pushups, sit-ups or lifting weights.

Protect your mind
Being active is really good for your mind as well as your body. Getting some physical activity each day can help prevent you getting depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. Moving more can also help you get a good night’s sleep, which helps your brain to rest and recharge. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, being active every day can help to ease the symptoms. Physical activity can also help with stress. Although it won’t make your stress disappear, it can help clear your thoughts so you can deal with any problems more calmly.

Enjoy life now and tomorrow
Being active slows the natural breakdown of your bones and muscles, and helps you maintain a healthy weight and good circulation. It also helps maintain your brain. Being active helps keep you healthy and prevents health conditions that can hold you back. Vivacity run a range of free activities such as ‘Walking for Health’ and ‘Nordic Walking’ as well as reduced-price sessions aimed at helping people with long-term health conditions, while Inspire Peterborough can support people with disabilities through inclusive sport and leisure activities.

Active Travel
Choosing more active ways to get around is a fun and easy way to fit more activity into your daily routine. If you can walk or cycle instead of driving or taking public transport, it can also be good for your pocket, as well as the environment. The Peterborough Green Wheel offers 45 miles of on-road and trafficfree cycle paths in and around the city to help you find alternative ways of getting to and from work, or leisurely rides. Find out more at Travelchoice. They can also provide you with a personalised travel plan.

Evidence suggests that physical activity can benefit an organisation because active workforces tend to report less illness, recover more quickly from the illnesses they do get and experience lower staff turnover. You can find out more by looking at the evidence on the national Wellbeing Charter website: www.wellbeingcharter.

Physical activity benefits for adults and older adults
For adults, it can seem hard to fit activity into a busy schedule. Working and looking after the rest of the family and the home can mean there isn’t much free time. It’s not just about feeling stronger, fitter and more energetic. You can also get a great sense of achievement if you decide to learn to dance or take up a new sport, and you’ll feel loads more confident too. Being active means getting your heart rate up, feeling warmer (perhaps even breaking into a light sweat) and making your lungs work harder.

Age well
Being active is critical to maintain a healthy body and mind for later years. Not being active increases your risk of many conditions that will impact on your future quality of life, including dementia, osteoarthritis and general physical limitations in older age. Older adults can be more at risk of falling, and should do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week, such as yoga, tai chi and dancing.

How fit are you?
By meeting recommended levels of physical activity, your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes is reduced by up to 50%. The Department of Health recommends that adults should do 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week, such as cycling or fast walking, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). Physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy. Are you doing enough?

Want to know more?
There are lots of resources and support that can help to improve our levels of physical activity, as highlighted by Public Health England’s ‘One You’ campaign. People can take the One You quiz to get feedback on various aspects of their lifestyle and get tips on how to make positive changes.

For information on sources of support visit

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