Health is something we often take for granted, until we don’t have it.
We all have different things we do to wind down, have fun and spend time with the people we love, but could all of these things be combined? The word ‘fitness’ or ‘exercise’ fills many of us with dread – conjuring images of dragging ourselves (or being dragged) to an aerobics class which will leave us sweaty and achy, or of being lapped when jogging around the local park by a person we deem to be far less fit.
Could there be a way to wind down, have fun and spend time with the people we love AND be active? Of course, but we might just need to think outside the box:
- Set up a mini sports tournament with friends and family – complete with prizes of course!
Challenges could include:
- How far can you run in a minute?
- How many star jumps can you do in a minute?
- How many times can you throw and catch the ball without dropping it (either individually or in a group)?
- How far can you jump?
- Who can make up the craziest dance moves to some old-school classics? (You could even turn this into a game of musical bumps!)
- Go trampolining together, either in a local park if you are lucky enough to have trampolines in it, or at a trampoline centre. Remember, you will look silly, but the focus is on having fun, winding down and spending time with the people you love, although standing on the side lines doesn’t actually count as being active, so you do ACTUALLY have to bounce!
- Download the Active 10 app from Public Health England and challenge each other to do as many bouts of 10 minutes’ brisk walking whilst you go for a weekend walk. You can use a step counter, but the evidence suggests that 10 minutes’ brisk walking is more beneficial for our health than doing 10,000 steps a day.
If you still need convincing, nhs.uk states that it’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:
- Up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- Up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- Up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
- Up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
- A 30% lower risk of early death
- Up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
- Up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
- A 30% lower risk of falls(among older adults)
- Up to a 30% lower risk of depression
- Up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
And how do they define ‘regular physical activity’ for adults? 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week (for children, it’s at least 60 minutes every day). Moderate intensity is activity where our heart rates are raised, but we can still talk whilst exercising.
Food and fitness go hand in hand; we need to be well nourished. After activity like this, you might be a bit peckish. The first thing to do is to make sure you have had enough water to drink (the recommendation is six to eight glasses a day, but when we are physically active, we will need more); then, depending on how active you were, you might need to replace some salts because of the sweat you have lost (a 200ml glass of milk is a good way to do this); and, if you need it, you might want to have a small snack – perhaps some carrot and cucumber sticks, and some Tutto Bene Mini Grissini with a homous dip.
Remember, being physically active does not have to be a chore; it can be part of your day and it can be fun, help you to wind down and help you to have quality time with the people you love. For more ideas on how to be physically active, check out https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/get-active-your-way/
Health warning: We can all be physically active in some way, but it is important to only do what you are medically able to. Please check with your doctor if you have any concerns.