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How to improve your fitness

Anything that gets you moving is physical activity and it benefits you whatever your age. Read tips on how to get active and improve your fitness.

Anyone can get active, it’s easy to start and it’s never too late. Anything that gets you moving is physical activity and it benefits you whatever your age. Get motivated to improve your fitness.

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

Choose a reason for becoming more active

Ask yourself why are you being active. Maybe you want to lose weight, sleep better, increase your energy, gain strength, add muscle tone and flexibility, or just feel good.

Choose an activity that you enjoy

Choose activities you enjoy. Variety is key, if you get bored with one activity, try a different one.

Set goals and chart your progress

Set a realistic goal for yourself to achieve. Keep a diary, a chart or use an online app to track your progress. You can track your steps using a pedometer or a health app on your phone. Enjoy the challenge and remember to progress slowly.

Don’t punish yourself

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

Give yourself rewards

When you achieve goals or steps to a goal, give yourself a treat - preferably a healthy one.

Try to do some activity on most days of the week

Most of us lead very busy lives and are juggling jobs and family duties. Setting a specific time aside each day will help you to build activity into your daily routine.

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 your fitness habit

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

Keep in mind:

  • short bouts 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 which 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
  • water aerobics
  • cycling slower than 10 miles 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.

Activity for your age

You should aim for certain amounts of activity depending on your age:

  • children and young people - at least 60 minutes moderate-intensity activity daily
  • 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.

Related topics

Fitness for your lifestyle
Teaching your children to be active

Activity for older adults

Adults aged 65 and older who are generally 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 even 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
  • even daily chores such as shopping, cooking or housework to break up periods of sitting

Balance exercises at least 2 days a week can help if you’re an older adult 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

Download a guide to find out more about:

Related topic

Arthritis and physical activity

Develop a healthy lifestyle

Find out more about improving your health by developing healthy eating habits.

Related topics

Being active with a health condition or disability

Why being active helps your health

page last reviewed: 30/01/2019
next review due: 30/01/2022