How active are you?

This year’s National Fitness Day takes place on September 29, 2018. The event aims to raise awareness of fitness and its importance in helping everyone lead healthier and more active lifestyles.

It’s also a good opportunity to remind ourselves of the activity guidelines recommended by the NHS. So exactly how much physical activity do adults aged 19 – 64 need to do to stay healthy?

There are two basic guidelines for adults, which are to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, as well as strength exercises on two or more days a week (these should work all the major muscles, such as the legs, shoulders, arms, stomach, chest and back).

However, if you do vigorous exercise – such as running or playing singles tennis – the requirement is for 75 minutes a week instead of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. It’s also recommended that you can do a mix of moderate and vigorous exercise.

According to the NHS, two 30-minute runs and 30 minutes of brisk walking is the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (each minute of vigorous activity equals two minutes of moderate-intensity activity). Whatever the intensity of your activities, you also need to do strength training twice a week.

Moderate-intensity activities

If you’re exercising moderately, you should feel warmer and breathe faster, and your heart rate should be raised (the NHS says you can test this – if you can still talk but you can’t sing the words to a song, you’re working at a moderate level).

The types of things you could do that would make you work out moderately include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Hiking
  • Cycling (level ground or with a few hills)
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Playing basketball or volleyball
  • Skateboarding
  • Rollerblading

However, vigorous exercise is better than moderate exercise in terms of health benefits, says the NHS. Try one of the following for a vigorous work-out:

  • Jogging or running
  • Cycling fast or on hills
  • Playing singles tennis
  • Playing football or rugby
  • Aerobics or gymnastics
  • Martial arts

Strength exercises

Building strong muscles is important for your health too. You could try muscle-strengthening exercises such as squats, lunges, sit-ups and push-ups, all of which use your own body weight for resistance. Or you could try lifting weights or working with resistance bands, or doing yoga or Pilates. Even heavy gardening – if you’re doing lots of digging and shovelling – counts as vigorous exercise.

Some activities, however, combine vigorous exercise with muscle strengthening, such as running, aerobics, circuit training, rugby, football and netball.

Finally, the NHS also recommends having regular breaks to do some light activity if you sit for long periods.

If you’re interested in taking part in the many activities across the country that are part of National Fitness Day, visit www.nationalfitnessday.com. Meanwhile, your local Careway pharmacist can help if you’re not sure what type of activities would suit you. They can also let you know if you should see your GP before starting any new type of exercise programme (people who have a medical condition and those who haven’t been very active lately should always check with their doctor first).

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.