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Developed by the British Dietetic Association.


getting physical what's best for you?

children in swimming pool

We know that the target for good health and to help with weight control is at least 30 minutes of 'moderate-intensity' activity on at least 5 days of the week, such as walking, swimming, housework or gardening.

'Moderate-intensity' means being active enough so that your breathing and heart rate is faster than normal and you're feeling warm. Aim to be 'breathless not speechless' - you should still be able to talk while exercising! If not, slow down, you're overdoing it.

The good news is that you don't have to do your 30 minutes all in one go. Two lots of 15 minutes, or even three lots of 10 minute bursts of activity, may be just as effective as 30 minutes of continuous activity. Gradually build this up to 60 minutes if you can.

Aim to be as active as possible as often as you can. Any amount of physical activity is better than none at all, and if you're already active your health will benefit from doing more.

There are basically two types of exercise:

Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise includes anything that works your heart and lungs hard, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming and cycling.

Resistance (weight) training includes the use of weights and machines, and is good for toning muscles. It's good to include both types for overall fitness, strength and health.

Top tips to get more active in your daily life:

  • Clean the house with vigour
  • Wash your car by hand
  • Climb the stairs briskly
  • Mow the lawn & rake the leaves more often
  • Use the stairs, not the lift or escalator
  • Go for a brisk walk at lunchtime
  • Walk instead of taking the car for short journeys
  • Get off the bus or tube a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way
  • Go out and play with the kids in the garden/park
  • Go for a cycle ride or country walk at weekends

When you are trying to lose weight, aim to burn at least 1000 calories a week through extra activity. This equates to 30 minutes of brisk walking every day.

Check how many calories you burn up doing your favourite activities or daily tasks by using our 'get moving' calculator.


Safety tips

Check with your doctor about the best form of activity for you if:

  • – You've not been active for some time
  • – You suffer from health problems

The benefits of walking

Not sure where to start? A walking programme is ideal. Studies have shown that brisk, regular walking:

  • Helps with weight management because it
    • – uses large muscle groups;
    • – is something that most people can do,
    • – doesn't require expensive equipment and
    • – helps increase your metabolic rate;
  • Makes you feel better by improving your mood;
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Is a great way to keep your heart healthy, improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels

Why not invest in a pedometer to help with motivation?

Visit the Walking for Health website for information.