Physical Activity Information

Physical Activity is defined simply as movement of the body that uses energy. There is compelling and indisputable evidence that physical activity performed on a regular bases, is good for you, for use as a society, for our environment and our economy Increasing our levels of physical activity is shown to 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. These conditions can impact not only life expectancy but healthy life expectancy and disability free life expectancy. These 20 chronic health conditions, account for nearly 60% of deaths annually (WHO, 2010)

It is perhaps less well known that physical activity can improve the educational attainment of our children, help to reduce anti-social behaviour, build self-esteem across the life span, contribute to urban regeneration and help increase work productivity, quality of life and employment. A physically active society will also result in a major decline in loneliness and social isolation, along with a reduction in depression and poor psychological health. The CMO (2019) states that “If physical activity were a drug, we would refer to it as a miracle cure due to the many illnesses it can prevent and help treat”.

  • How much physical activity is recommended?
  • What is moderate intensity physical activity?

    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 bike
    • dancing
    • doubles tennis
    • pushing a lawn mower
    • hiking
    • rollerblading
  • What is vigorous intensity physical activity?

    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
  • What are muscle strength and balance physical activities?

    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
  • What are the risks for sedentary behavior?

    Sedentary Behaviour (physical inactivity) – is any waking behaviour characterized by an energy expenditure of <1.5 metabolic equivalents, such as sitting, reclining or a lying posture.  As well as reduced levels of activity, sedentary behaviour has additional risks.

    Research describes sedentary behaviour as the disease of our time with it being the 4th leading cause of death worldwide, highlighting the importance of being physically active and moving more.    A good proportion of our societies are inactive, we know that most of us do sit for the majority of the working day. Reducing the burden of physical inactivity is critical given that it costs the NHS £1.1billion (Allender et al., 2007) with the wider costs to society and the economy approximately £8.2billion per year (Department of Culture, Media and Sports, 2002).