How fit are you?
The risk of many of the leading causes of ill health, such as coronary heart disease, cancer and type two diabetes, could be reduced if we were to play more sport and increase our overall levels of physical activity.
Fitting some physical activity into your day is easier than you think. Being active is really good for your body, mind and health – and there are lots of easy ways you can get moving!
By meeting recommended levels of physical activity for adults, your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes is reduced by up to 50%.
Experts recommend that adults should do 150 minutes a week of physical activity that makes you breathe faster such as cycling or fast walking. This can be done in 30 minute sessions at different times.
Examples of activities that require moderate effort for most people include:
- walking fast
- water aerobics
- riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
- doubles tennis
- pushing a lawn mower
Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate level is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song.
We should also carry out strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
Are you doing enough? Find out by taking the One You quiz.
Vivacity leisure centres in the City Centre, Orton, Werrington, Netherton and Hampton offer exercise for health classes, as well gym and swimming options.
Sit less and move more
Modern day life means it’s never felt easier to get to the end of the day and realise you’ve been sat down for most of it.
People are less active nowadays, partly because technology has made our lives easier. We drive cars or take public transport. Machines wash our clothes. We entertain ourselves in front of a TV or computer screen. Fewer people are doing manual work, and most of us have jobs that involve little physical effort. Work, house chores, shopping and other necessary activities are far less demanding than for previous generations.
We move around less and burn off less energy than people used to. Research suggests that many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting down, at work, on transport or in their leisure time. People aged over 65 spend 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down, making them the most sedentary age group.
Inactivity is described by the Department of Health as a “silent killer”. Evidence is emerging that sedentary behaviour, such as sitting or lying down for long periods, is bad for your health. Not only should you try to raise your activity levels, but you should also reduce the amount of time you and your family spend sitting down.
Finding ways to be more active can start with reducing the amount of time we spend sitting down – get up, stretch your legs and do more steps each day.
Take the stairs whenever you can and go on a brisk walk to the shops instead of driving.
If you work at a computer most days, try getting up to talk to a colleague instead of an email, or make a cup of tea for your team.
Spending hours watching television is not good for our bodies so why not swap the living room for the garden? Gardening is a great way of getting outdoors and being active – you could even have fun growing your own veggies too!
Surprise the dog by taking it for a walk twice a day or a much longer walk than usual – you’ll both benefit!
Try going for a brisk walk in the park or a bike ride, or even dancing to the radio. If you’re looking for some great places to take a walk, why not try local nature and wildlife reserves such as Cuckoo’s Hollow in Werrington, Thorpe Wood Woodlands or the Stanground Wash.
Maybe clean the car by hand yourself using a bucket and sponge, rather than taking it to the car wash. Good for you and your wallet and you could even get the kids to help!
For young adults there are a number of skate parks and BMX tracks open to the public at all times, some are nationally recognised facilities attracting riders from all over the country.
For most of us, daily chores such as shopping or housework don't count towards your activity target. This is because your body doesn't work hard enough to get your heart rate up.
Click on the links below for ideas on building more activity into your life:
Check out Amazon's One You Health Hub where you can find products to help you live a healthier lifestyle, whether that's getting you more active, tracking your health or getting a better night's sleep.
Building your strength helps keep your muscles, bones and joints strong. This will help you feel stronger, more flexible and full of energy.
Muscle strength is necessary for all daily movement, to build and maintain strong bones, to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and to help maintain a healthy weight.
To achieve health benefits from strength exercises, you should do them to the point where you struggle to complete another repetition.
There are many ways you can strengthen your muscles, whether it's at home or in the gym such as carrying groceries, stepping and jumping such as dancing, heavy gardening such as digging or shovelling and exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups or lifting weights.
Watersports and outdoor activities provide great strength-building exercises for people of all ages, and you can try lots of thee type of activities at Ferry Meadows Country Park. Ferry Meadows also has lakes, meadows, woodlands and a riverside that make it a popular destination for many visitors throughout the year for relaxing walks as well as cycle routes.
The Strength and Flex exercise 5-week plan consists of a series of equipment-free exercises designed to improve your strength and flexibility. Strength and Flex will help you achieve your recommended two weekly sessions of strength exercises.
Get moving now
It is estimated in the UK that one out of every six early deaths results from not being physically active.
Physical inactivity costs the NHS £900 million per year and if other costs such as social care are taken into account, this rises to £7.4 billion per year.
It's easy to move more and doing something is better than nothing. Start small and build up gradually – just 10 minutes at a time can be really good for you. Make a start today. It's never too late.
By building activity into your day it keeps your heart healthy, reduces your risk of serious illness and strengthens muscles and bones. It can also be a great way of reducing your stress levels and lifting your mood if you’re feeling down. Our busy lives often means our own health is at the bottom of our list of priorities, but remember that it’s important to take time to look after yourself as not only will you feel the benefits but so will your family. Get your heart beating faster and your lungs working harder for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Take the free online One You health quiz, to get personalised recommendations on how to start the fight back to a healthier you. Check out your score and see what tools and offers One You suggests to help you change. Being active is all about having fun. If we don’t enjoy it, we won’t keep it up, and we all deserve to spend some time doing something we enjoy.
10 minute workouts
Short on time? Hate the gym? Too tired to exercise after work? These 10-minute workouts are just what you need. These equipment-free fitness routines are great to do at home and short enough for you to easily fit them into your daily schedule. There are six workouts, one for every day of the week if you include a rest day, each working on a different area of your fitness.
10,000 steps challenge
Walking more, whether it's for work or leisure, is an easy way of being more active without trying too hard. Setting yourself a target of walking 10,000 steps a day can be a fun way of increasing the amount of physical activity you do. Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and give you a healthier heart.
12-week fitness plan
Want to improve your health? Need to lose weight? This activity plan for beginners, combining running and strength and flexibility workouts, will get you into the habit of regular exercise in 12 weeks. The plan is structured but flexible enough to allow you to fit the exercise sessions around your other weekly commitments.
Fitness Studio exercise classes
Take your pick from among 20 instructor-led videos in our aerobics, strength and resistance, pilates and yoga categories. No gym fees, no intimidating group classes, no timetables: exercise from the comfort of your own home whenever you want.
Put the fun back into fitness with these equipment-free workouts for all levels. These illustrated guides are designed to help make your workouts effective and easy to follow.
Couch to 5k
The NHS Couch to 5K plan is designed to get you off the couch and gradually work you up to running 5K or for half an hour, in just nine weeks.
5 minute wake-up workout
Start your day feeling on top of the world with this five-minute bedroom workout combining strength and flexibility exercises.
Perkins Great Eastern Run 5k or half marathon
If you’re really keen, Peterborough hosts the Perkins Great Eastern Run in October each year and it is one of the fastest growing half marathons in the country. It also has a 5k fun run.
Protect your mind
Being active is really good for your mind as well as your body. Getting some physical activity each day can help prevent you getting depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.
Moving more can also help you get a good night's sleep, which helps your brain to rest and recharge. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, being active every day can help to ease the symptoms. Physical activity can also help with stress by helping to clear your thoughts so you can deal with any problems more calmly.
How exercise helps your mental wellbeing
Scientists think that physical activity helps maintain and improve wellbeing in a number of ways. Physical activity can help people with mild depression. Evidence shows that it can also help protect people against anxiety. Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood. Some scientists think that being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge.
How you can get more active
If you want to get active, think about physical activity in the broadest sense. It can help to read the physical activity guidelines for adults. Adults aged 19 and over should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity – such as fast walking or cycling – a week.
Find activities that you enjoy, then make them a part of your life. There's lots of information and advice on NHS Choices to help you get active:
Feel happier and enjoy life more with these five evidence-based steps for improving your mental wellbeing.
Benefits of physical activity
It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some. Its name? Exercise.
Physical activity can help keep you fit and well and reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.
Click on the links below to find out if you're doing enough for your age:
Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence.
This is no snake oil. Whatever your age, there's strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life.
People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.
Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.
Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems obvious that we should all be physically active. It's essential if you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life into old age.
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
Being active means getting your heart rate up, feeling warmer (perhaps even breaking into a light sweat) and making your lungs work harder. There are dozens of local community centres around the Greater Peterborough area and surrounding villages, offering lots of opportunities to get moving, try something new and meet local people, so why not find out what yours has to offer?
We all rely on cars and public transport, because they make our lives so easy.
Choosing more active ways to get around is a fun and easy way to fit more activity into your daily routine. It can take a little longer and you may not be able to do it for all your journeys, but you may be surprised where you can swap the car or public transport for two legs or two wheels.
Also, walking or cycling instead of can also be good for your pocket, as well as the environment.
The Peterborough Green Wheel offers 45 miles of on-road and traffic-free cycle paths in and around the city to help you find alternative ways of getting to and from work, taking the school run or leisurely rides. Find out more at Travelchoice. They can also do you a personalised travel plan.
Sustrans have great advice on how to start cycling to work, and you can even get a new commuting bike without having to pay up front through the cycle to work scheme.
Pledge to take part in the Cycle to Work Day on 14 September 2016 - you can even win prizes!
Living healthily in middle age can double your chances of being healthy when you are 70. Being active is critical to maintain a healthy body and mind for later years, and poorer health in later life is not inevitable.
Older age can mean living as well as young people by making relatively small changes to our habits and lifestyles now. Not being active increases our risk of many conditions that will impact on future quality of life, including dementia, osteoarthritis and general physical limitations in older age.
Older adults can be more at risk of falling, and should do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week, such as yoga, tai chi and dancing.
Being active slows the natural breakdown of your bones and muscles, and helps us maintain a healthy weight and good circulation. It also helps maintain our brains.
If you’re looking to be active with the children or grandchildren, there are over 200 play areas for families of all ages in and around Peterborough. Facilities at some of the parks such as Central Park include a paddling pool, sensory garden, an aviary, a cafe and sports playing grounds. The Embankment is within easy walking distance of the city centre and runs along the picturesque views of the River Nene, Bretton Park boasts one of the largest green open spaces whilst Itter Park in Paston has a bowling green and a putting green.
Pedal yourself to a healthier lifestyle
There are over 250km of cycle lanes and paths in Peterborough make cycling safe, accessible and enjoyable for the whole family. Whether you are taking leisurely rides on the Green Wheel or using our primary cycle network to reach your school or place of work, this city loves cyclists.
Dust off your saddle and get on your bike for an easy and low impact activity, whilst improving your fitness and reducing your stress levels.
- A cycle ride of fifteen minutes to work or the shops and back meets the recommendation for an adult’s daily activity
- On average, cyclists live two years longer than non-cyclists and are as fit as an average person ten years younger
- Too dangerous to cycle? Being inactive presents a much greater risk than non-cycling, with 50,000 people dying in the UK each year due to coronary heart disease related to insufficient physical activity
- From gentle exercise to serious sport, cycling burns off calories, raises your metabolic rate and helps you to feel and look a whole lot healthier
- Cycling firms your thighs and bottom and can even help tone your stomach muscles
As well as being good for your health you will also save money and the environment.
View Travelchoice's Get Cycling booklet for advice on cycling around Peterborough.
For cycle routes, download Peterborough's urban cycle map and rural cycle map or try out a scenic cycle leisure routes Nene Park Loop, Nassaburgh Trail, John Clare Country, Crown Lake Link and Celtic Causeway.
Set yourself a Great Eastern Challenge
Why not set yourself the challenge to be part of one of the biggest and best half marathons in the region. If your fitness levels aren't up for the half marathon, sign up for the 5k fun run (you can walk it if running is still a but daunting for you). You could even get the whole family involved in the 5k.
The Perkins Great Eastern Run takes place on 9 October and has a great reputation among half marathons in the UK, as its fast, flat course gives runners an excellent chance of a personal best.
Novice runners can get all the running support and training advice they need for the race. Free weekly training sessions take place at the Peterborough Embankment Athletics Track from July and on race day pacers will lead runners around the course at a variety of speeds.
To register for this year’s half marathon or 5k please go to www.perkinsgreateasternrun.co.uk.
Walking for health
Vivacity have joined forces with Walking for Health and are currently running local walks in the Peterborough area.
Walking can improve general health and happiness, joining a local walking group often encourages people to explore the outdoors, get to know their local area and meet like-minded new people. It’s really easy to get started with walking as you don’t need any special equipment, it’s completely FREE, plus it counts towards your recommended amount of physical activity.
There are a number of different locations across the Peterborough area where the groups meet on a regular basis including Ferry Meadows, Werrington, Orton Mere and Dogsthorpe to name a few. There are some beautiful routes so great for taking in some of the local scenery.
Most of the walks can be adapted so you can either take a short walk, or a longer stroll depending on your own preference or ability. Everyone is welcome!
Elaine Pringle, who is one of the Walk Leaders commented: “All of the walks are on solid paths and are not just through housing estates. The walks accommodate people of differing capabilities and speeds. You do not feel that you are in a race and everyone is friendly and welcoming. The walk leaders are all volunteers but take the time to make sure all of the walkers are OK throughout the walks. Some of the walks are followed by a cuppa and a good old natter in a local café!”
The Walking for Health scheme has helped Elaine personally following chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for lung cancer 2 years ago. “Some of the medication I was on led to weight gain and it was suggested that I walked on a regular basis to tackle this. I was made aware of the Walking for Health scheme and joined a twice weekly 3 mile walk at my local country park. When I first joined I didn’t know anyone else but everyone was very friendly and welcoming. As the walks were at the same time and place each week I found it easier to attend. I would most definitely recommend this scheme to others. It's a great way to get some exercise and you meet some lovely people too!”
To find out about your nearest walking group, visit the walking for health, call Kerry our friendly Walk Co-Ordinator on 01733 864738, or email email@example.com.
Weekly park runs
Peterborough Parkrun is a FREE weekly 5km event for runners of all standards, which takes place every Saturday at 9am in Ferry Meadows Country Park, Ham Lane, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, PE2 5UU. It is not a race against other runners, but a 5k timed run and it can really be whatever you want it to be, whether that's for fun or as part of a training plan.
It offers an opportunity for all the local community, male or female, young or old, to come together on a regular basis to enjoy this beautiful park and get physically active into the bargain. We want to encourage people to jog or run together irrespective of their ability – this event is truly open to all and best of all it really is FREE!
Taking part is easy – just register before your first ever parkrun. The great thing is that you only ever need to do this once! Then just set your alarm for Saturday morning and get yourself there!
Every week we grab a post parkrun coffee in the Ferry Meadows Café, show you barcode and get a 10% discount - please come and join us! Maybe swap stories about your run that day, chat to other runners over a cup of tea or coffee and just be an important part of this new running community.
So whether you are a complete novice looking to get yourself started on your own "running journey" or a seasoned athlete wanting to use this as a part of your training schedule, you’re welcome to come along and join us.