10 small steps to help increase physical activity.

Physical health is all about being active. That is anything that gets your body moving – from gardening to washing the car, from walking to carrying out jobs around the home. It doesn’t need to be hugely demanding or competitive, but staying active is one of the best ways of maintaining or improving health.

You might be thinking, ‘What if I have never been very active before?’. We asked Chris Bamford, Director of Wellness at Guild Living, for advice.

“There is rarely a bad time to start being active, however, establishing a healthy pattern and routine can be extremely difficult. The benefits of an active daily life are well publicised, but what about the challenge in knowing how or where to start?”. Let’s take a look at how we can all start to become more active…

So, what are some of the benefits of undertaking physical activity?

Being active can help improve many aspects of your physical health such as balance, mobility, strength, as well as your cardiovascular health and respiratory system. It can also help your immune system, providing greater protection from infection and improve appetite, sleep and as a consequence mood.

Chris continues, “One of the best benefits of being active is you can plan it with other people. An opportunity to engage and meet with others enables a greater sense of belonging and motivation to continue, creating common bonds with friends old and new”.

Below are a few things to consider that may make this step a little easier.

1. Routine. Continuity is one of the most essential elements to building a good pattern, so no matter how small your first step is, keep at it.

2. Time of Day. We are all different and remaining active becomes even easier when we know what time is best for us. Once you have established this, then book it in.
3. Make a commitment. Write down and plan it into your schedule or calendar. Committing in this way prevents you from allowing other appointments to get in the way.
4. Enjoyment. This is a vital part of the routine, so whatever you plan for yourself, make sure you finish feeling that you could do more. This will encourage and incentivise you to do it again.
5. Sleep, food and water. These foundations help and improve how you feel and can influence many aspects such as your energy level, your circulatory system, and your mood. Achieving a good balance in these areas will improve your ability to maintain a consistent approach to activity.
6. Variety. You are more likely to retain a programme of activity if it remains fun and interesting which can be helped by having more than one interest.
7. Measure yourself. There is a real sense of positivity through seeing progress which provides great motivation to continue. Therefore, keeping a log of how you feel alongside a record of simple measures such as distance, steps, or time, really helps this.
8. In Good Company. A great benefit to being active is we can do it with a friend, a loved one or a partner. This may be the encouragement each other needs to increase the likelihood of maintaining your programme, or it may be the opportunity to make new connections through a class or group activity.
9. Remember the Benefits. There are many physical, emotional, and cognitive benefits of incorporating activity in your daily life. One clear aspect, however, is the ability to help retain control of how you live and this we believe is the greatest of all.
10. Reward yourself. All good actions should be recognised, and we believe where positive change has been made, this should be incentivised. Frequent milestones in achieving continuity in a programme deserve points of reward however small, but it encourages continuation.

While there are places to exercise, many people find membership-based clubs a daunting prospect. But there are other ways you can begin to live an active lifestyle.

1. Walkingthis could be lots of smaller walks throughout the week
2. Supporting a neighbour who may need support taking their dog for a walk
3. Gardening
4. Cleaning the car
5. Signing up to an online class
6. Completing exercises at home
7. Joining a community group
8. Volunteering locally
9. Jobs around the home
10. Membership to a sporting club – such as bowls, table-tennis, golf

Let us know how you keep active and if you plan to increase your physical activity in the comments below!

Chris Bamford has spent 14 years working in healthcare, in both operational and strategic roles. His experience spans a variety of specialised areas including dementia care, acquired brain injury and spinal cord injuries in both adults and children.

Prior to 2006, Chris spent 12 years in the health, fitness and wellbeing sector. Starting as a personal trainer in London, he spent many years supporting people to achieve their personal goals and ambitions.

Now a part of Guild Living, Chris is working with academic expertise and specialists in health, nutrition and wellness, to establish a holistic approach to support a healthier and better quality of living for longer