Physical Activity

Movement is one of the most valuable things that we can do for our overall wellbeing and helps us to feel energised and motivated too.

Physical Activity

When we get moving we will improve the quality of our lives in so many positive ways.

As human beings we have a basic psychological and physical need to move our bodies and it is helpful that we do this on a regular basis if we want to stay fit and well.

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Getting moving by participating in a sport can be a thoroughly enjoyable way to stay active, challenge ourselves and build connections with other people. Team sports, in particular, can provide opportunities to develop useful life skills including effective communication, teamwork and collaboration. Many sports cater for people with various abilities and is a really inclusive and collaborative way to get moving.

According to the World Sports Encyclopaedia, there are 8,000 indigenous sports and sporting games played worldwide so there are lots to choose from! Even if we don’t want to actually participate in a sport, we can join in as a supportive spectator. This will get us moving about and clapping and cheering, which will stimulate our senses and lift our mood.

Stretching is an excellent mood-boosting activity and stretching in the morning helps increase our blood flow and prepares our bodies for the day ahead. When we find ourselves sitting in one place for a prolonged period it is good to get into the habit of standing up every thirty minutes and stretching.

Regular stretching helps keep our muscles flexible, strong and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in our joints. Even if we only do it for a few minutes, it will make us feel great and can be uplifting and energising.

Walking is highly beneficial for our mental health and overall mood, and setting ourselves a daily step goal by tracking our steps is a great way to stay motivated.

Here are a few ways to get those extra steps in:

  • Make sure you get outside every day, no matter what the weather
  • Use lunch breaks to go for an energising stroll
  • Walk to the shops rather than take the car Use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator
  • Join a walking group or get a walking buddy
  • Get a dog or volunteer to walk someone else’s
  • Have a walking work meeting rather than sit at a computer Jog on the spot throughout the day
  • Listen to podcasts and audiobooks when walking
  • Aim to walk 10,000 steps a day which is roughly equivalent to walking 5 miles or 8 kilometres and is a great goal to strive for if we are measuring our steps.

Dancing is a great way to get moving and let go of tension and stress. It helps us to physically express ourselves and when we feel free, our bodies release happy hormones like dopamine. This hormone helps lift our mood and can reduce anxiety and depression.

Dancing can also significantly improve our strength and flexibility, aerobic power, lower body muscle endurance, balance and agility. Dance is also a great vehicle for social connection and bringing people together in a joyful way and there are lots of different dance classes available. Also, putting on some of our favourite music and dancing about for a few minutes can be a great energiser and stress reliever.

Gardening is a wonderful experience that exposes us directly to the work of nature as we watch the natural world flourish. It has also been proven to improve mood, manage feelings of anxiety and depression as well as reduce stress levels.

Gardening is also a great way to get fit with digging and shovelling coming top of the list for burning the most calories and mowing and weeding not too far behind. Even if we don’t have our own garden there are plenty of opportunities in the wider community to get involved by volunteering, supporting an elderly neighbour or applying for an allotment.

Housework is more than just cleaning because it involves mobility and stretching. Any physical movements carried out during housework, such as lifting, bending, squatting and reaching overhead, are all movements we may well perform during a strength training workout. Activities like vacuuming, scrubbing and lifting all require energy and when we are focused on a particular household task we may not even notice that we are exercising.

According to various experts, about an hour of intensive cleaning could be roughly equivalent to a 20-minute low-impact workout. Also, the physical activity of cleaning combined with the result of a cleaner home can be great for our mental health as it helps to reduce stress and provides us with a sense of achievement.

Further sources of help and support

Movement for Health

NHS Informs "Physical Activity Guidelines"

Paths For All

NHS Fitness studio

Get running with Couch to 5K

Better Health/ NHS Home workout videos

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