Physical Activity

What is Physical Activity?

Physical activity is simply any movement of the body that uses energy. It has many health benefits and any amount of physical activity you do is good but the more you do the better!

It is much easier to sustain regular amounts of physical activity if it is enjoyable and incorporated into daily life to become a habit.

The South Eastern Trust co-ordinates a number of programmes that help to promote physical activity in the community.  There are many health and well-being benefits for us if we can move more and sit less.  Hopefully the resources on these pages will help to make it more accessible to find something that interests you and to take part.

Benefits of Physical Activity

Increasing research shows that our levels of physical activity contribute to prevention and management for over 20 chronic health conditions including, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, some cancers, obesity, all of which can lead to premature death. They can impact not only life expectancy but healthy life expectancy and disability free life expectancy. According to WHO these 20 chronic health conditions account for nearly 60% of deaths annually!

Increasing our physical activity levels can have an impact on our mental health. Not only can if help us feel better but can be useful in helping us recovery from depression and anxiety and can be a valuable tool for preventing these conditions.

Socially by taking part in physical activity it can increase our chances to meet new people and to socialise and gives us a chance to relax and enjoy taking part.

How Much Physical Activity and What Type?

The Chief Medical Officers Guidelines for Physical Activity were updated September 2019 and have advice for all age groups.

For adults and older adults it is recommended that we take 150 minutes of moderate intensity (aerobic exercise) or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity (aerobic) activity a week.

Doing this amount of aerobic exercise will helps maintain heart and lung function. This can be split over the week in any way that fits into your lifestyle.

In addition to aerobic exercise we are recommended to do muscle strengthening activity (resistance exercise) on 2 days of the week.  The benefits of resistance exercise are that it will improve our muscle strength and tone and protect the joints from injury; it can also maintain flexibility and balance as you age.

What is moderate intensity (aerobic exercise?)

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 intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing. Examples of moderate intensity activities:

  • brisk walking
  • water aerobics
  • riding a
  • dancing
  • doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower
  • hiking
  • rollerblading

What is vigorous intensity (aerobic exercise?)

Vigorous intensity activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you’re working at this level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath. Most moderate activities can become vigorous if you increase your effort. Examples of vigorous activities:

  • jogging
  • swimming fast
  • riding a bike fast or on hills
  • walking up the stairs
  • sports, like football, rugby, netball and hockey
  • skipping
  • aerobics
  • gymnastics
  • martial arts

Muscle Strengthening Activity (resistance exercise)

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities involve using the major muscle groups using the body weight or working against a resistance. Examples of muscle strengthening activities are:

  • lifting weights
  • carrying shopping bags
  • yoga
  • Pilates
  • tai chi
  • working with resistance bands
  • gardening such as digging and shovelling
  • wheeling a wheelchair

Sedentary Behaviour

We are also asked to consider our levels of sedentary behaviour. Sedentary Behaviour is sitting or lying down for extended periods.  Even if you are physically active you also need to reduce the amount of time you spend being sedentary as this has additional risks. Research describes sedentary behaviour as the disease of our time.

Worldwide it is estimated that a sedentary lifestyle is responsible for 6% coronary heart disease cases, 7% of type 2 diabetes, 10 % of breast cancer and 10% of colon cancer.

Inactivity is responsible for more annual deaths than smoking!  As a result of these high risks the CMO guidelines also specify that periods of sedentary behaviours should be kept to a minimum for all age groups.

Physical Activity Programmes Supported by South Eastern Trust:

We co-ordinate a range of physical activity programmes aimed at supporting the community to take part in physical activity details are below:

  • The Daily Mile
  • Physical Activity Training Courses
  • Active Ageing
  • Livewell Staff Health and Well being

  • The Daily Mile

    The Daily Mile For Pre-schools, Primary Schools and Early Years Organisations

    The aim of the Daily Mile is to improve the physical, social, emotional and mental health and well-being of our children.

    It is an activity where the children run, jog or walk at their own pace in the fresh air with their friends.  The aim is to build the fitness levels up so that each child has got a level of stamina to run the whole 15 minutes or 1 mile.

    It is a very simple context which primary or nursery schools can implement free of charge and with no need for staff training.  All the resources are free at registration on the Daily Mile Website. www.thedailymile.co.uk.

    The Daily Mlle can be transformational, not only children’s fitness levels but also their concentration levels, mood, behaviour and general well being.

    For further information checkout the Daily Mile website or contact physicalactivity@setrust.hscni.net

  • Physical Activity Training Courses

     We co-ordinate and deliver a wide range of physical activity facilitator training for community, voluntary and statutory organisations. These courses are free and enable staff and volunteers to be able to promote increased physical activity through delivering programmes tailored for specific groups.

    Moving More Often (for frail elderly)

    Walk Leader (for those wanting to build up fitness)

    Simply Street (for young people)

    Chi Me (Tai Chi influenced exercises)

    On Your Feet (for mobile older people)

    Chair Based Exercise (for those with limited mobility)

    Boccia (for physically disabled)

    Early Movers (for under 5 years)

    Functional Fitness MOT (for independent over 50s)            

    Details of upcoming courses are included in the Physical Activity Training Brochure. If you are interested in a course that’s not currently running, please contact physicalactivity@setrust.hscni.net