- 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.
- helps you maintain an ideal weight and can help with weight loss.
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 last for at least 10 minutes to have health benefits.
Get moving by going for a brisk walk, cycling for fun or to get you from A to B. Take up a hobby that means you’ll be bending, climbing, running, jumping, stretching, walking, riding, boxing, joining a conservation group. Enjoying time outside will maximise the benefits of helping your mental wellbeing. Don’t forget, there’s no such thing as bad weather; Just bad clothes.
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 friends, family or 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’s 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’s good for motivation and tracking daily improvements. Some practices will lend these to patients - so ask at your GP practice.
If you want to start gently and need some support you could also join a health walk. 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.
If you prefer being outside then how about joining a BTCV Green Gym®. It offers you the opportunity to 'work out' in the open air through local, practical environmental or gardening work.
Find out what's going on at your adult education centre, local leisure or community centre and look in the local paper for clubs too.
Dance is an activity too! There are lots of dance studios and clubs around Oxfordshire offering anything from ballroom dancing to salsa.
Use the internet to see what else is available - there may be something on your doorstep.
Information and support in Oxfordshire
Activities Oxfordshire promotes activities for young people aged 13+ in Oxfordshire. We will help promote ANY positive activity that supports wellbeing!
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
- Conditions that can affect your muscles, bones, and joints, by making them painful, swollen or stiff.
- respiratory disease that makes breathing difficult
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.
Designed with health in mind they can improve both physical and mental health by offering a safe, friendly and supported environment where everyone can walk at their own pace and not be left behind to walk alone. There is also opportunity to socialise with refreshments at the end of the walk.
Health Walks are perfect for beginners, for those who would like to become more active or perhaps lack the confidence and knowledge about where to walk. Many of the walks have a variety of routes and offer the opportunity to move onto more challenging walks as fitness increases.
However, there will always be a short, unchallenging walk on offer for those who need it and all walks are supported by volunteer walk leaders.
There are various local walks around the county and we are continually looking to expand the walking programme, but as walks are primarily led by volunteers we are limited by the number of volunteers we have. So, if you enjoy walking and meeting people and have a little spare time why not think about being trained as a volunteer walk leader?
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.
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