What counts as activity?
All physical activity counts from doing the housework to running a marathon. The Department of Health guidelines recommend:
- Under-fives: 180 minutes - three hours - each day, once a child is able to walk.
- Children and young people : 60 minutes and up to several hours every day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity. Three days a week should include vigorous intensity activities that strengthen muscle and bone.
- Adults and older people : 150mins - two and half hours - each week of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (and adults should aim to do some physical activity every day). Muscle strengthening activity should also be included twice a week.
Note: Activity can be spread out through the day into bite-size chunks. One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week.
What is moderate physical activity?
Moderate-intensity activity will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you're working at a moderate intensity is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song.
What is vigorous intensity physical activity?
Vigorous-intensity activity means you're breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate has gone up quite a bit. If you're working at this level, you won't be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.
Making the change
There are many ways to overcome any barriers which might have stopped you exercising. You could discuss the options with your heathcare team. Here are some tips to get you moving:
- Include walking in your everyday life. Instead of meeting friends for a coffee suggest a walk or a trip to the shops. Leave the car, or get off the bus two stops earlier and walk.
- Try dancing, swimming, golf, cycling, bowling or gardening.
- Enjoy fun with the kids and join in with their activities, such as kicking a ball around the park.
- Even those essential jobs around the house like vacuuming and DIY will help.
- If you are starting a new activity check with your healthcare team to see how this will effect your diabetes.
Top tips for an active life
- Build up gradually. If you have been inactive for years your body may take time to adjust as your heart and muscles tone up.
- Set yourself daily, weekly and monthly goals or targets.
- Try keeping a physical activity diary to monitor your progress and reward yourself for achieving your goals.
- Try varying your activity to avoid boredom, and don’t be afraid to try new activities.
- Don’t give up. Although your body benefits as soon as you become more active, you may not see changes straight away. After a few weeks the benefits will become more noticeable
Regular habits in your daily routine are easier to achieve. If you find an activity you enjoy, you are more likely to keep it up. Try taking up an activity the whole family or your friends can enjoy.
Exercise and blood glucose levels
Activity may affect blood glucose levels both during and after exercise. Regular blood glucose checking will help you to understand how activity affects your blood glucose levels. Be aware of hypos. And remember to keep an eye on your feet too.