Being active is a major part of looking after your cholesterol levels, keeping your heart healthy and preventing heart disease. It can:

  • raise your HDL cholesterol levels – the good cholesterol which removes fat from your arteries
  • lower your LDL cholesterol – the kind that gets laid down in your arteries
  • help you to lose weight or stay a healthy weight
  • lose fat from around your middle, which is important for heart health
  • lower your blood pressure
  • lower the risk of diabetes, and help control diabetes.

Exercise can improve your health in many other ways too. It can:

  • lower the risk of some types of cancer
  • keep your bones and muscles strong
  • keep your joints flexible and improves balance
  • prevent falls and injuries when you get older
  • relieve stress
  • make you feel more confident
  • give your mood a boost.
It’s never too late to start

Be inspired by watching this video by Emma. She shows you gentle exercises which you can do at home. Many of them can be done from a chair so will be appropriate for you if you're not able to stand or need support when standing.

How much physical activity should I do?

  • Adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of intense activity every week. If you can do more that’s even better.
  • Children and young people under 18 should aim to do at least one hour of activity every day.
  • Children under the age of five who can walk without help should be active for at least three hours a day, spread throughout the day.

One way of reaching 150 minutes a week is by being active for 30 minutes a day,
at least five days a week.

If you find it hard to do 30 minutes in one go, break it down into two lots of 15 minutes or three lots of 10 minutes. Start off slowly and build up over time.
Moderate activity is activity that makes you feel warm and slightly out of breath, but you should still be able to hold a conversation. Try to vary the type of activity to work different muscles and joints. For example, brisk walking or jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, tennis, or heavy gardening.

If you’re not used to exercising or you have health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, talk to your doctor about what’s safe for you. They should also be able to give you ideas for exercise schemes in your area.


Getting more activity into your day

Hop off the bus or tube a stop early and walk part of your journey.

Take the stairs, not the escalator.

Go for a regular walk, before breakfast or at lunchtime.

Park further away from the shops and walk the rest of the way.

Get into gardening or share an allotment with friends.

How to get more active

There are lots of ways to be active. You don’t have to use a gym or join the local football team if it’s not your cup of tea. Instead, see where you can fit extra bursts of activity into your day – make them part of your routine and form new healthy habits.

It can be more fun being active with others. Why not organise a regular walk or swim, or arrange a trip to the park or a nature ramble for family and friends?

Find things that you like doing so that you’re more likely to stick with it in the long term.

Whatever you decide to do it helps if it is something you enjoy or that fits easily into your daily regime. That way you are more likely to keep it up.

You can also visit NHS ONE YOU. They have lots of ideas and support for getting active, including a free app, ways to get fit for free at home, and Couch to 5K – a plan to take you from total beginner to running 5K in 9 weeks.