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Being regularly active helps to prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- helps you maintain an ideal weight and can help with weight loss.
- improves co-ordination, flexibility and muscle strength, which can help to reduce the risk of falls for older people.
- helps to ease depression and anxiety and improves sleep patterns.
- helps to reduce high blood pressure.
How much should you do?
Adults should be moderately physically active for at least 150 minutes a week. Children should be active for 60 minutes every day.
The activity needs to raise your heart rate and be sustained for at least 10 minutes to have health benefits.
Physical activity may include brisk walking, cycling, active recreation or formal sports and organised activities.
Structured activity such as going to the gym or attending an exercise class should be enjoyable – if you don't like it you won't stick at it. Get your family/partner involved then it becomes social too.
If you are active it's more likely your children will be too. Be a good role model for them.
Ways to be more active:
Make activity part of your daily routine, once it's a habit it easy to maintain.
Cycle or walk where possible instead of taking the car, you will be doing your bit to save the environment too. Use the stairs rather than the lift and always walk short journeys.
Try using a pedometer, it's a useful tool that counts your daily steps and it good for motivation and tracking daily improvements. Some practices will lend these to patients - so ask your GP.
If you want to start gently and need some support you could also join a health walks. There are many walks available across Oxfordshire. Information is available at:
If you have a medical condition or are overweight you may be eligible to join the Oxfordshire Exercise on Referral Scheme. Talk to your GP about whether this is an option for you - see 'Help from your doctor' below.
Information and support in Oxfordshire
Go Active is a countywide campaign to increase physical activity levels (number of adults achieving the recommended 150 minutes exercise a week) by at least one per cent per year.
Go Active Coordinators and staff based at each of the districts councils and are working to promote and create opportunities for people to take part in physical activity. More information and a local 'activity search' are available at www.getoxfordshireactive.org.
Help from your doctor
Exercise on referral aims to help eligible patients in Oxfordshire become more physically active by taking part in a tailored exercise programme delivered by trained professionals. Patients pay the discounted price of their local fitness facility. To be eligible you should be inactive but physically able to take part in the scheme and have sufficient motivation to do so. Patients who are referred to the scheme will have health conditions that can clinically improve by increasing physical activity levels such as:
- cardiovascular disease
- mental health problems such as depression or anxiety
- musculoskeletal disease
- respiratory disease
Talk to your GP if you think this may be appropriate for you. For more information about the scheme and a list of local providers please visit the Oxfordshire Sport website.
Health Walks are short, organised walks, led by trained volunteers from the local community. They are part of the national Walking for Health Initiative which has helped to develop walks across the country.
For details of current walks you can contact the organiser of each scheme to find out more details. Please visit the Oxfordshire Sport website for more details:
For information on other Health Walks around the country, please visit: http://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/
Generation Games is Oxfordshire's activity network for the over 50s. This free service will create a personal programme of activities for you, provide support and help to ensure your safety. Please visit the website for more information about signing up and Generation Games activities offered in your local area.
You may prefer an alternative method of getting your quota of physical activity! There are now Green Gym sites around Oxfordshire, which offer a range of activities to promote conservation in local communities, while getting exercise at the same time. Green Gyms are organised nationally by BTCV and supported locally by other organisations.
Conservation tasks may vary according to season and need, but examples are planting bulbs, planting hedges, or cutting back overgrown areas. No experience is necessary as trained leaders are there to support and all tools are provided. The sessions are free of charge and are an opportunity to meet other people with an interest in the environment and also have that all important tea break to socialise!
Sites that are currently in operation in Oxfordshire are- Abingdon, Bicester, Chipping Norton, Sonning Common and Wallingford. For more information on Green Gyms and the work of BTCV, please visit the website.