5 tips for getting active (when you’re essentially a couch potato)

Dr Ben Kelly Head of Clinical Research & Outcomes Ben Kelly is a specialist in preventative medicine and leads the clinical research and digital health agendas for Nuffield Health. More by this author
Here are five tips, starting easiest first, to help you get more active on a daily basis.

1. The 90-minute rule

A lack of movement is directly linked to cardiovascular disease. During a busy day, it can be difficult to remember to keep active.

An easy rule to remember is to get up every 90 minutes and stretch your legs. That means, every hour and a half, head to the kitchen to make a cuppa or pop outside to get some fresh air – your body will thank you. Apps like Alarmed allow you to set reminders for yourself, making this easier than ever.

2. Walk a little (and then a lot)

It's recommended that you take 10,000 steps per day, but if you’ve been living a sedentary life it can be tough to imagine where you’d get the time (let alone energy) to walk this much.

If you’ll excuse the pun, a journey of a thousand miles starts with the smallest step. So why not start with 2,000 steps per day in your first week, and then build on that week on week until you find yourself at 10,000? If you are unsure how to track your steps, many smartphones now come with step trackers built in, there are apps dedicated to this purpose and old fashioned pedometers have never been cheaper.

3. Ditch the lift

Usually take the lift? Switch it for the stairs. It might not feel like enough effort to really make a change, but over time, these small changes can have a big impact.

Keep track of how many times you make the switch. Or better yet use a pedometer to see the impact it has on your step count.

4. Get off the bus or train early

This is a nice simple personal challenge. Get off one stop early once a week and walk the remainder of the journey to work.

Once this has become part of your routine up it to two days a week and before you know it you’ll be doing it all the time. This might go a long way to helping you hit your 10,000 steps (see point two above).

5. Social sports

The most ambitious of our tips, but definitely the most rewarding as well. By teaming up with a partner (or even a group), exercise can suddenly feel a lot less like a chore.

Whether its as simple as finding a walking buddy or tackling a beginners game of doubles tennis, you’ll find a great situation to help you de-stress and socialise, and you won’t even realise you are exercising after a while.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

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