More men than women are physically active

It's good news for English men. According to a report by NHS Digital, nearly two thirds of men in the country meet national activity guidelines compared with 58 percent of women.

The figures come from the latest Health Survey for England, the series that monitors trends in the nation’s health. On average, the survey claims 62 percent of adults (men and women) in England meet the guidelines. These guidelines state that adults aged 19 and older should do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Alternatively, doing 75 weekly minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week can achieve similar health benefits, the guidelines suggest.

It’s also recommended that adults do strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles, including legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.

Around the country London has the highest proportion of people aged 16 or older meeting the activity guidelines (65 percent). The least number of people meeting the guidelines are from the West Midlands (53 percent). The percentage of people in well-off areas meeting the guidelines is higher than the national average at 68 percent, but just 50 percent of those from the most deprived areas achieve the same.

However, while men have been found to be more likely to meet the activity guidelines than women, the survey shows they spend more time sitting than women when they’re not at work (during the week men sit for an average of 4.8 hours a day outside work, compared with 4.6 for women, and 5.3 hours on a weekend compared with 4.9 for women).

Upping your activity levels during working hours may help. But since most of us these days have sedentary jobs, it may not be easy to get up and move around much while you’re at the office. However it’s a good idea to get up from your chair every 30 minutes or so when you’re stuck behind your desk most of the day. Here are a few things you can try:

  • Use an app on your computer or smartphone to remind you to get up and move around the office every half hour.
  • Walk around the office each time you get up to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee.
  • Walk over to a co-worker’s desk instead of emailing them.
  • Stand up every time you take or make a phone call.

Medicines and mental wellbeing

The same Health Survey for England report looked at another factors, including mental health and wellbeing and the use of prescription medicines. Mental health problems, it suggests, may be becoming more common. Based on a 12-item questionnaire that asks about your level of happiness, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance and self-confidence – called the GHQ-12 score – the proportion of adults with a high score grew to 19 percent compared with 15 percent four years ago.

Most age groups showed some increase in probable mental ill health, the survey suggests, the largest increases being among young men aged 16 – 24 and 25 – 34 and women aged 16 – 24.

The survey also found that 48 percent of adults said they took at least one prescribed medicine in the week prior to the survey, with 24 percent taking three or more (this includes 82 percent of those aged 85 and over). Only three percent of adults used 10 or more prescribed medicines during the previous week.

If you’re taking any prescription medicines and have questions or worries about things like whether or not you’re taking them correctly or side effects you may be experiencing, your local Careway pharmacist is the best person to speak to.

Your pharmacist can tell you everything you need to know about your medicines, with many pharmacies in England and Wales offering a free service called a medicines use review (MUR). This is a private consultation with your pharmacist that aims to help you get the most out of taking your medicines, and because it takes place in your pharmacy’s consultation rooms, you won’t have to worry about being overheard by other pharmacy customers.

Ask your pharmacist about the free services they offer – including MURs – today. Find your nearest participating Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.