Are you moving enough? 10 small changes you can make in your day-to-day life to boost your fitness levels
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
Technology may have made our lives easier, but it also gets part of the blame for making us less active.
Fewer of us are doing manual work and most of us have jobs that involve little physical effort. We're busy, but we're moving less and burning less energy than previous generations.
These sedentary lifestyles see many adults spending more than seven hours a day sitting down, at work, on transport or in their leisure time.
The Department of Health calls inactivity a 'silent killer' and evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health.
Not only do we need to be more active, but we need to cut down on the amount of time we and our families spend sitting down.
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That's time spent, for example, watching TV, gaming, using a computer, taking the car for short journeys, sitting down to read, talk or listen to music.
This sedentary behaviour is thought to increase our risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as weight gain and obesity.
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Crucially, you can do lots of physical activity but still be at risk of ill health if you spend the rest of the time sitting or lying down.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
It's easy to move more and doing something is better than nothing. Start small and build up gradually.
1. Reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down. Get up and stretch and do more steps each day. Walk to the shops rather than driving, take the stairs rather than lifts and escalators. These little changes really add up!
You only need to reach 150 minutes of brisk movement every week before you start to feel the benefits – that's around 20 minutes a day, and it doesn't have to be all at once
2. Swap some of your sitting time for standing (at the bus stop, reading the paper, waiting for your turn in a queue). While watching the TV do something active at the same time, such as dusting or standing ironing.
It's also important to do strength exercises that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) twice a week. Activities such as gardening and carrying the shopping count, and see the strength exercises on the Livewell pages at www.nhs.uk
It can seem particularly difficult to be active if you spend a large part of your day at work, especially as lots of jobs now don't require much physical labour, but there are still things that you can try.
3. Walk or cycle part – if not all – of your journey to work. Get off a bus stop before your destination. If you need to drive, try to park further away from your office and walk the rest of the way.
4. Discuss project ideas with a colleague while taking a walk.
5. Stand while talking on the telephone or reading.
6. Walk over to someone's desk at work rather than calling them on the phone or sending an email.
7. Take the stairs instead of the lift, or get out of the lift a few floors early and use the stairs.
8. Walk up escalators rather than standing still.
9. Go for a walk during your lunch break – use a pedometer to keep track of how many steps you take. Try to find different walks, and alternate between them during the week. Gradually build up to walking 10,000 steps a day.
10. Exercise before or after work, or during your lunch break. Go for a walk. Your office may have a gym, or you may have access to a nearby swimming pool or squash courts.
For more information and to take the online health quiz, search 'One You' online now.
To stay healthy or to improve health it's recommended you do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. This can easily be broken down to five sessions of 30 minutes of aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking.
It's also important do strength exercises on two days of the week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)
Fortunately there are lots of opportunities available here in Norfolk to help you get there! Visit www.activenorfolk.org to find a huge range of activities and sports on offer that could be right for you.
The free Couch to 5k app aims to make running for 30 minutes achievable for all of us, however unfit we feel to start with. It works for me, says one reader.
A voice in her ear telling her that she can do it and to keep going was exactly what Sophie Leney needed when she started running.
She used the free NHS Couch to 5k app to motivate herself to get fit, and says it definitely works
'It's very cleverly worked out, just when you think you really can't do this – in comes the voice, saying 'keep going' and it really works, you keep going,' says Sophie.
Having not run for about 30 years, she tried the Couch to 5k app last year as she approached her 50th birthday and felt she wanted to get fit.
She'd heard about the new Norwich 10k, set that as her target and a friend recommended she downloaded the Couch to 5k app onto her iPod.
'It's brilliant. It has a lady's voice, Laura, and it builds up over nine weeks, starting with running for one minute intervals.
'I was so out of breath and thought I was never going to get to 5k, but it fixes you into a routine of three runs a week and you get there,' says Sophie.
She followed it with another app to train from 5k to 10k and achieved her goal of finishing the Norwich 10k.
'I ran all the way, slowly, but I did it,' she says, putting her success down to the apps.
'I don't think I could have run 5k and then 10k without them,' she says.
Sophie, 51, runs to work as head of trading standards at Norfolk County Council. A mum to two teenage boys, she finds the early morning runs fit in with her life.
'I definitely feel fitter and better for running,' she says.
After breaking her leg last December, she started the couch to 5k app programme again once she had recovered, and completed the Norwich 10k again this August.
'Couch to 5k definitely works, it's 30 minutes of exercise three times a week and you just fit it into your diary,' she says.
Find the free NHS Couch to 5k app at www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx