Summer is a great time to make your lifestyle healthier as longer days and better weather mean that it’s easier to get outside and get active.
What’s more, a healthier lifestyle can not only decrease your risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, it can also decrease stress and increase your feeling of well being.
Exercising more often might seem difficult to fit into your current lifestyle, but there are lots of small changes you can make that will improve your general fitness.
Trying to change your lifestyle overnight could lead to you feeling overwhelmed. So make a couple of small adjustments and think about long term goals. This will make a healthy lifestyle much more achievable.
Even if you are not trying to lose weight, increasing the amount of exercise you do is beneficial for your health.
The amount of exercise you should be doing depends on your age and your individual fitness levels.
An adult (aged between 19 and 64) has very different exercise requirements to a child. The NHS recommends that an adult should be doing two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week.
But a child under five should be exercising for three hours a day – while young people up to the age of 18 should be exercising for an hour a day.
If you are aiming to lose weight, you may need to exercise for longer than the recommended times, as well as making changes to your diet.
If you are currently not exercising at all, begin gently to avoid over doing it. Consult your GP or an exercise professional if you need help beginning a regime. Try walking or gentle bike rides to gradually increase your fitness levels.
Doing a mixture of different types of exercise is the best way to stay healthy.
Aerobic exercise helps to increase your lung capacity and improves your heart health. Aim for moderate aerobic exercise to raise your heart rate and cause you to break a sweat. Examples of moderate aerobic exercise include: fast walking or jogging, swimming, dancing and tennis. Running is a brilliant example of aerobic exercise and is a great cheap way to get fit.
The NHS’s current campaign, Couch to 5K, proves that nearly anyone is capable of running five kilometres if they follow the outlined programme.
The programme starts by mixing walking with one minute periods of running, building up fitness levels over nine weeks, so that you are able to run five kilometres. Find out more about the scheme at nhs.uk/Livewell.
Don’t forget to look for trainers designed for running and think about where you will run. Choose grass or another soft surface instead of concrete to help prevent knee and back problems.
The other type of exercise which is important to include in your routine is muscle strengthening activity. This includes lifting weights, press ups, sit ups and yoga. Seek expert advice on techniques before trying these exercises to avoid injury. Try to keep this varied to work all the main muscle groups.
Modern lifestyles are quite sedentary. That means 150 minutes of exercise a week might sound a bit daunting, but going for a brisk 30 minute walk every night after work is an achievable way to reach your exercise target.
The key to success with fitness is not to associate it with boring workouts or hard-to-use machines. It can be as simple as going swimming with friends or going for a walk in your lunch break.
Try to create an exercise plan, with achievable weekly goals, to ensure you stay on track. Join locals groups or try to persuade your friends to join you – it’s much easier to stay motivated when you have support and can make exercise more fun.