There are many health benefits to being active. For example, regular exercise can give us more energy; reduce stress levels; help maintain a healthy body weight; and help improve heart, lung, muscle and bone strength.
The National Guidelines on Physical Activity recommend that adults take part in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity a day on five days a week (or 150 minutes a week).
Moderate intensity activities increase your heart and breathing rates, but you should still be able to comfortably carry out a conversation. Examples of such activities include: brisk walking (a mile in 15-20 minutes), medium-paced swimming and general gardening activities.
When participating in vigorous intensity activities, your breathing is heavy, heart rate is faster and it is difficult to carry out a conversation. Examples include: jogging/running, rope skipping and certain dance styles.
You can take part in moderate or vigorous activities as part of the guidelines, or a combination of both. Generally, one minute of vigorous activity equals two minutes of moderate activity.
It is advised to include muscle-strengthening activities (e.g. step aerobics, hand-held weights, carrying groceries) and endurance activities (e.g. walking, running, swimming, cycling) on 2-3 days per week.
Thirty minutes of moderate activity on five days per week is the minimum amount of activity recommended for good health, but you can build up beyond this over time.
If inactive, start off slowly and gradually increase the duration, frequency or intensity of your activity. The good news is that shorter bouts of activity of at least ten minutes can count towards the guidelines. If you are planning to change your activity pattern, and you have any concerns, seek advice from your doctor.
To maintain a healthy weight, or if weight loss is your goal, specific guidelines apply (see www.getirelandactive.ie). You don’t need to join a gym to include activity into your day! Some tips include…