Be physically active

Physical activity is good for you and one of the best investments you can make in the second half of your life. It can help maintain your physical and mental health and quality of life as you get older.

There is a range of health benefits including improved mood and sense of wellbeing, less stress, better sleep, maintaining strong bones, joints and muscles.  It also helps to maintain weight, reduce cholesterol levels, gives you more energy and helps you maintain independence.

Physical activity can lower the risk of:

  •      Heart disease
  •      High blood pressure
  •      Type 2 Diabetes
  •      Stroke
  •      Falls/fractures
  •      Some cancers

How much physical exercise should you do?

Recent UK guidelines state that adults who are aged between16-64 years and those over the age of 65 should do two and a half hours each week of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity.  Adults should aim to do some physical activity every day. Muscle strengthening activity should also be included twice a week.  However you don’t have to do this all at once.

Work towards 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days of the week and you can split this into two sessions of 15mins or three sessions of  10mins.  If you have any health concerns please speak to your practice nurse or GP.

How to become more active

Once you make the decision to get more physically active, choose something you enjoy and and try to do it regularly.  Start slowly and progress at your own speed -you should still be able to hold a conversation while you are exercising.  Gradually building up the level of activity regardless of your age is the sensible way to do this as any unexpected ill effects will be minimised. Warm muscles are also less likely to be strained so pace yourself sensibly.

There are many different forms of physical activity and you don’t  need to go to a gym to reap the benefits. Some  examples are:

  • Walking – an ideal way for most people to become more active and requires no special equipment or expense.  Whether you want to improve your general health,   keep fit, or to control your weight, walking can help. It can fit in with any lifestyle, income bracket, culture or domestic circumstance. Join one of the many walking  groups within the Northern Trust.
  • Swimming – works your whole body for all over toning and is also good for your heart and lungs.
  • Dancing – a great way for people of all ages to get and stay in shape. Besides being fun, dancing has many positive health benefits including building strength, flexibility and coordination.
  • Bowls – a low impact therapeutic activity good for muscles and joints. It can be enjoyed by those of any ability and has a great social aspect to it, whether practising, playing in a competitive league or just playing with friends.

Other activities that are part of your daily life also count, for example, gardening and doing housework.  The key message is to move more often everyday.


  • Something is better than nothing.
  • Build up to your total of 150 active minutes a week.
  • Be sure to add in activities that will help you to be strong and steady.
  • Limit and break up the amount of time you spend sitting still.

Get a Life, Get active

 Guide to walks in Northern Ireland

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