Tips on increasing activity

Walking Some small steps can help build more activity into your life. Here are some tips for busy parents, families, young people, office workers, older adults and disabled people.

Fitness for busy mums and dads

  • Set a time for physical activity and stick to it, build it into your routine.
  • Split activity up throughout the day – you can achieve your target in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
  • Walk your children to and from school.
  • Be active with your child. Take them to the swimming pool, or play in the garden or park. Get ideas on fun activities from Change4Life.
  • Join a child-friendly gym. Find a class or club that allows children in or offers childcare during a workout.
  • Set up a buggy group with other parents and go on long walks with the children.
  • Exercise during your lunch break.
  • Cycle or walk part, if not all, of your journey to work. Get off one bus or tube stop before your destination.

Fitness for families

  • Do them in chunks of 10 minutes throughout the day.
  • Instead of watching TV, encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends, such as playing chase or riding their bikes.
  • Let your kids help decide what to do. Children are more likely to participate in something if they're involved in picking it.
  • Walking is a fun and easy way for children to get active while spending time with you and their friends.
  • Have a disco in your lounge with your music. All you need are some great tunes and you and your children can have fun dancing anywhere.
  • Have a splash – whether they're doing lengths of the pool or having a good splash about, children love playing in water.
  • Cycling is a great alternative to the car or bus.

Young people and fitness

  • Walk more: to school, to visit friends, to the shops or other places in your neighbourhood.
  • Get your mates involved. You're more likely to keep active if you have fun and other people to enjoy yourself with.
  • Ask your parents if you can go to the gym with them or if there's a local community centre where you can exercise.
  • Create a new routine where you walk or run every day when you get home from school or before you have dinner.
  • If you don't want to exercise outside on your own, buddy up with a friend, or use an exercise DVD.
  • Dance in front of the TV or play some music. All you need are some great tunes and you can have fun dancing anywhere – and burn calories at the same time.
  • Do some household chores. Although light tasks such as taking out the rubbish won't raise your heart rate, some heavy gardening or washing the car will count towards your daily activity target.

Fitness for office workers

  • Cycle or walk part – if not all – of your journey to work or get off a bus or tube stop before your destination.
  • Discuss project ideas with a colleague while taking a walk.
  • Stand while talking on the telephone.
  • Walk over to someone's desk at work rather than calling them on the phone or sending an email.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift, or get out of the lift a few floors early and use the stairs.
  • Walk up escalators or travelators rather than standing still.
  • Go for a walk during your lunch break.

Fitness for older adults (65 years and over)

  • Be active around the house – cooking, housework and walking while you're on the phone can help keep you mobile, although these activities won't count towards your weekly activity target.
  • Conservation groups are a way to get involved in improving your local environment and being active at the same time.
  • Try something new.
  • Walking is the easiest way to increase your activity levels. Find a friend to walk with, or join a walking group for some extra motivation.
  • Senior sports or fitness classes keep you motivated and can be fun, relieve stress and help you meet friends.
  • Heavy gardening – including pushing, bending, squatting, carrying, digging and shovelling – can provide a good workout.
  • Swimming, aqua aerobics and working out in water is ideal for older adults, because water reduces stress and strain on the body's joints.

Disabled people

When it comes to exercise, disabled people have pretty much the same options – everything from simply getting out a bit more to playing team sports.

  • If you can walk, there's no easier way to increase your activity levels. Try to include walking in your daily routine. Find a friend to walk with or join a walking group for some extra motivation.
  • Cycling – there are tricycles, quadcycles, recumbants, hand-powered bikes called handcycles, and power-assisted bicycles, all of which are alternatives for those unable to ride a regular bicycle.
  • Low-impact exercises such as yoga, pilates and tai chi have been adapted to suit the needs of people with different types of disabilities. Get advice first, however, especially if you have a physical impairment – exercises not suited to your impairment may be harmful.
  • Choose a gym from one of more than 400 Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) accredited gyms.
  • Swimming can feel quite liberating if you have a physical disability, as your body is mostly supported by the water. Many pools offer classes and sessions catering specifically for disabled people.
  • Adapted sports – many sports can be played by disabled people on the same basis as non-disabled people. Some, such as blind football, have also been adapted to make them more disability-friendly.