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How to increase your activity levels

Anyone can get active and it’s never too late to start. Anything that gets you moving will benefit you, whatever your age.

Choose a reason for becoming more active

Ask yourself why you want to become more active.

Maybe you want to:

  • feel good or increase your energy
  • improve strength, muscle tone or flexibility
  • lose weight
  • sleep better

Choose an activity that you enjoy

Choose activities you enjoy. It's easier to stay motivated when you do activities that you enjoy.

If you get bored of an activity, try a different one.

It might be hard to get motivated, especially if it’s cold and raining outside. But you can get active anywhere — at home, work or outside.

Try our exercise videos

Indoor exercises, including strength and flexibility exercises

Set goals and chart your progress

Set a realistic goal.

You could:

  • keep a diary, a chart or use an online app to track your progress
  • track your steps using a pedometer or a health app on your phone

Enjoy the challenge and remember to progress slowly.

Be kind to yourself

Everyone has bad days when they might not do some or all of an activity. Just get back on track the next day.

Give yourself rewards

When you achieve goals or steps to a goal, give yourself a reward.

Try to do some activity on most days of the week

Most of us lead busy lives and juggle jobs and family duties. Set aside time for activity most days of the week.

If finding time is difficult, think of ways to add activity that suit your daily routine. For example, get off the bus a stop early or go for a short walk on your lunch break. Some movement is better than none.

Get support

Go walking or jogging with friends, colleagues or family to make it more enjoyable and motivate you. Join a club or online community to track your progress.

Starting to get more active

Whatever your age or ability, any activity is better than none.

Keep in mind:

  • short sessions count - you can reach your 30 minutes per day goal, 10 minutes at a time
  • choose activities that are right for you - get advice from your GP
  • spread your activities throughout the day and week
  • add activities that increase muscular strength and endurance 2 to 3 days a week

Aim for moderate intensity activity. Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.

For example:

  • brisk walking - 1 mile in 15 minutes (4 miles in an hour) or 1km in 9 minutes (6.4km in an hour)
  • water aerobics
  • cycling slower than 10 miles per hour or 16km per hour
  • dancing
  • general gardening

You can try building up to vigorous levels of activity to double the health benefits. 75 minutes of vigorous activities such as jogging, football and energetic dancing have similar benefits to 150 minutes of moderate exercise.

What is moderate and vigorous activity?

Moderate activity is when breathing and heart rate increase, but you can still have a conversation.

Vigorous activity is when your breathing becomes heavy, heart rate becomes faster and it’s hard to keep a conversation going.

Activity for your age

Aim for certain amounts of activity depending on your age:

  • children and young people - at least 60 minutes moderate-intensity activity every day
  • adults - at least 30 minutes moderate-intensity activity 5 days a week
  • older people - at least 30 minutes moderate-intensity activity 5 days a week

If you are unable to reach these goals, start in small amounts and work your way up to these levels.

Fitness for your lifestyle

Teaching your children to be active

Activity for older adults

Adults aged 65 and older who are fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility should try to be active daily.

For example:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week such as walking, dancing or pushing a lawnmower
  • muscle-strengthening exercises 2 or more days a week - for example, digging, carrying groceries, step aerobics, hand-held weight exercises and yoga
  • using daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework to break up periods of sitting

Strength exercises

Balance exercises at least 2 days a week can help if you’re at risk of falls.

Try including any of the following in your daily routine to improve your stability:

  • yoga, tai chi or Pilates
  • backwards and sideways walking
  • walking on heels and toes
  • standing from a sitting position
  • standing on one foot

Balance exercises

Page last reviewed: 2 May 2023
Next review due: 2 May 2026