The following guidelines recommended by the countries 4 CMO’s describe the amount of activity required to achieve substantial health benefits but remember regular participation in physical activity at higher levels will provide additional health gains.
Physical Activity Guidelines for children and young people aged between 5 and 18:
1. All children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity
for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.
2. Vigorous intensity activities, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, should be incorporated
at least three days a week.
3. All children and young people should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting)
for extended periods.
For children and young people who are currently inactive, doing some physical activity, even if it is less than the guidelines, will provide some health benefits, however, a gradual increase in the frequency, duration and intensity of activity to achieve the guidelines is recommended.
Children and young people who are overweight or obese can gain health benefits from meeting the recommended levels of physical activity, even in the absence of any changes to their weight status. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, additional physical activity and a reduction in calorie intake may be required.
Why get fit?
Activity raises your heartbeat and helps pump blood around your body- a mini workout for the lungs and muscles! It also decreases your chances of getting life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes and is a good way of using up extra calories, helping us to maintain a healthy body weight.
A good dose of fresh air and exercise also helps us all sleep better, helping to make you feel more alert for the next day, it can also be a way of getting together with friends or making new ones.
Exercise without the expense…
To be physically active, you don’t have to play a sport or join a gym. Health clubs and gyms can put some people off, but others are motivated by the structured environment of a gym. Similarly, organised classes and sports clubs also give you support, goals and a chance to make new friends. However, there are many cheap activities that you can do on your own that don’t involve equipment or technical expertise. Just give them a try.
Simply reduce time spent sitting down
If you spend a lot of time sitting down during the day, try to find ways of reducing it with enjoyable active alternatives. Even standing or walking is better for you. It might seem like a small change but getting up and about in your daily routine does make a difference.
- See how many times in a day you can use your feet - whether it’s simply getting off your chair and walking a few steps across the classroom, or taking the stairs not the lift, small amounts soon add up to a more active and capable body for the long term.
- The furthest parking space isn’t all bad - if you end up on the furthest side of the car park, or even a couple of streets away, the walk to and from the car will do you good!
- Get off the bus a stop early.
- Carry your shopping home from town - carrying a few light bags is great for toning your arms.
- Try ditching the TV remote - if only for a couple of evenings a week. If you have a cordless phone, make calls while wandering around the house or garden - every step counts.
- We all need time to relax, but be aware of when you’ve been sitting down for a long time. Whether it’s watching TV or on the computer, every now and again get up, stretch your legs and find something active to do for 10 minutes.
Most people walk at some point in the day. Increasing the amount you walk is easier than you think.
You can make it a social affair by joining a local walking group.
Walking stimulates the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs and circulation). The average person can
burn up to 400 calories by walking 10,000 steps in a single day. Get yourself a pedometer and give
it a go. It's easier than you think. For tips on walking check out the NHS Choices getting started guide
Running and jogging
You need a basic level of fitness to jog or run. Running puts more demands on your body than walking. The benefits are greater but so are the risks in terms of injury. To start with you can 'walk-jog': walk for a minute and then jog for a minute, alternating the speeds throughout your session. Run at a pace at which you can still hold a conversation, but which feels harder than walking.
Vary your running route to make it more interesting. Don’t exhaust yourself at the beginning or you'll lose motivation. Running stimulates the cardiovascular system and increases lower-body muscle endurance. If you're thinking of taking up running for the first time or you've been inactive for a while, read the NHS Choices getting started guide to running.
Most car trips are under a mile long and could easily be cycled- this may include your trip to college. Cycling involves more cost in terms of buying a bike and associated safety equipment than walking or running.
It's a low-impact activity, but you can still injure yourself if you have the wrong size bike, or the saddle and handlebars are at the wrong height. Cycling is an aerobic exercise and works your lower body and cardiovascular system. Start slowly, and increase your cycling sessions gradually. You can make it a social activity by riding with friends, family or a cycling group. For tips for complete beginners, see the NHS Choices getting started guide to cycling.
Swimming is the third most popular type of exercise after walking and running. There’s probably a pool near your home or college. Most pools offer lessons if you’re a beginner or you want to improve.
Swimming exercises the whole body and is a great way to tone up and get trim. Doing a few lengths involves most of the muscle groups. If you increase the pace, you’ll get an aerobic workout too. Swimming can also help you lose weight if you swim at a steady and continuous pace throughout the session. Some people may feel self-conscious about wearing a swimsuit. Going to the pool with friends or family is a good way to build your confidence. For tips for complete beginners, read the NHS choices getting started guide to swimming.
Ideas to get you moving…
- Have a dance in the lounge with some of your CDs
- Get skipping – skipping ropes are cheap and can be great exercise
- Do step up exercises on your stairs at home
- Walk/cycle to college
- Jog around your estate or local park
- Take up an active hobby
- Being active is all about having fun, if we don’t enjoy it, we won’t keep it up. We all deserve to
spend some time on ourselves, doing something we enjoy. Once you get started, it’s easy to keep going.
- A walk in the park
A walk can give you some thinking time and is a great way to de-stress.
Find out about local walks in your area - search My Local Area, see www.nhs.uk/letsgetmoving.
- Dance off!
Dancing is a really fun way of burning energy - it can be in a class with others, in front of the TV or radio.
All you need is a great tune. See Let’s Dance with Change4Life website.
- Get on your bike!
Cycle round your local park or try an organised bike ride. Many of them are short distances and are a great way to get cycling with friends and family. See Bike4Life or www.nhs.uk/letsgetmoving.
- Take a trip to your local pool
Whether it’s a regular splash around with family or friends or swimming lengths, it’s a fun way to get active and a sauna or Jacuzzi afterwards is a real treat.
You need to try to get your heart beating faster, and your lungs working a bit harder for at least 10 minutes at a time. Build up to doing this for a total of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.