Active life

Benefits of an active life - adults

Older man and woman out walking

How much activity should adults do?

For general health benefit adults and older people should achieve at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity on 5 or more days of the week.  30 minutes can be achieved through short bouts of 10 or 15 minutes.

It’s important for older people to keep moving and retain their mobility through daily activity.  Activities that help improve strength, co-ordination and balance are very beneficial.  Activities would include, exercise sessions, walking and gym.

It’s important to remember that although you may have been very active when you were younger, the benefits of that are not stored.  As soon as you stop being physically active the benefits also stop.  Therefore, physical activity needs to continue in to old age.

Why is it important for older people to be active?

As well as physical benefits, being active can help improve the social, emotional and mental well-being, reduce anxiety and enhance mood.  Taking part in regular activity can help you meet people and make new friends. 

Being physically active can help older people maintain functional ability, independence and reduce the risk of falling.  It can also help prevent and manage diseases and conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. 

Taking part in regular activity, particularly structured exercise sessions can help slow down the loss of bone, muscle strength and power.  It can also help maintain or improve balance, endurance, and mobility.

Remaining physically active as an adults and in to old age can help maintain independence.  Daily routines involving walking to local shops may mean less reliance on others and help with social and community interaction.

What type of activity should older people be doing?

30 minutes of physical activity can be achieved through bursts of 10 or 15 minutes.  Activity should include strength, balance, and co-ordination exercises as well as endurance activities like walking.  This will help maintain ability and confidence to carry out daily tasks such as getting shopping, lifting and carrying things, bathing and dressing etc.  Dancing, structured exercise sessions, swimming and walking are all great activities to achieve this.

Benefits of an active life - children and young people

A boy and girl running

How much physical activity should children be doing?

Children and young people need to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity that gets their heart beating faster than usual, every day.  It’s important to include activities to improve muscle strength, flexibility and bone health.

60 minutes can be achieved through short bouts of varying activity throughout the day.

Why is it important for children to be active?

Being active during childhood will help them develop a positive habit that becomes a way of life in to adulthood.   60 minutes of physical activity per day can have important health benefits.  Combined with a healthy diet It can help maintain a healthy weight and protect them against life-threatening diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

As well as help protect against diseases, getting more active could help children find a sport or activity they really enjoy and maybe have a talent in.  Taking part can help them make new friends, be more confident, improve self esteem, learn new skills and time management, which will all help them later in life.

What activity should children be doing?

To achieve 60 minutes of activity per day, children should be doing short bursts and bouts of activity as well as longer bouts such as when taking part in sports.  It’s important to include activities to improve muscle strength, flexibility and bone health.

A variety of activity is important at this stage.  Activities like running, jumping, ball games and gymnastics put stress on the bones and help develop and improve bone health.  Active play including climbing, rough and tumble and carrying will help develop and maintain muscular fitness and flexibility.  All movement such as walking to and from (or part way) school will help maintain energy balance and prevent weight gain.  A variety of different activities and intensities will be fun, enjoyable, improve skills, and provide a full range of health benefits.

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Last Updated: 27/04/2015