I have my lovely Dad to thank for my love of being active. Sunday afternoons were designated as Family Activity (known as FA!) time when we would tramp round the chilly Derbyshire countryside, visit a National Trust property or be forced to mow the lawn or cut hedges.

At the time, as a reluctant teenager, I didn’t always relish the prospect and was glad when I was old enough to be allowed to stay at home! But being active, going for walks, gardening, etc was a normal part of my growing up. As an adult I’ve really come to appreciate this.

It’s National Fitness Day on Wednesday 25th September. This is an awareness raising day to highlight the benefits of exercise and activity for our physical and mental health and hopefully be inspired to take part in something or increase current activity levels.

There’s a bunch of things that have been developed to help us increase physical activity levels: aiming for 10,000 steps a day, 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, or dividing up exercise into shorter burst of 10 minutes of walking or gardening or even 1 minute of high intensity activity. Setting targets like this works for some people and for others it’s a complete turn off!

As a fitness instructor it my job to help people enjoy exercise. So my classes are fun, engaging, with great music and lots of encouragement. However, I reckon the key for most people is to think in terms of ‘activity’ rather than ‘exercise’. Think about what we’re trying to achieve – good heart health, a bit of headspace time, strong joints and muscles that are going to age well and keep working and a reduction in our risk factors for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic health conditions. But our body doesn’t know whether we are in the gym or digging in the garden – the effect on the heart rate, increased blood flow and using up energy is the same.

So my top tips: find some exercise or activity that you love doing – the absolute key to wanting to find time for it.

Don’t get too obsessed counting things – minutes or steps or whatever. I’d say just aim to increase it from whatever you’re doing now, don’t stress about a 9 minute walk over a 10 minute walk.

Try to be consistent – little and often is better than one huge workout every two weeks.

What have you taken up recently that you’re enjoying? Let me know!

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