Starting slowly and having realistic expectations of what you can achieve are two key pieces of advice from sport and exercise medicine consultant Professor Mark Batt on getting more active this January.

Physical activity is not just about ‘sport’, it’s about building more activity into your daily life, using what’s available within your environment and finding ways to be active that you enjoy – making you more likely to stick with it.

Professor Batt advises avoiding the same activities on successive days, especially if you’re new to exercise, and to mix things up to use different muscle groups. A mix of aerobic and strength exercises are key to developing all round fitness and wellbeing. Walking, dancing, biking and gardening all count as aerobic exercises and for strength, while going to the gym is an option, there are simple exercises that can be done at home, from resistance band and sit to stand exercises to using tins of beans as weights while you’re making the dinner!

Be opportunistic and find things within your existing lifestyle to make ‘a tweak’ to be more active.

Be opportunistic and find things within your existing lifestyle to make ‘a tweak’ to be more active. Everyday activities can count towards achieving the recommended 150 minutes a week of physical activity, for example spending time on an allotment, walking to the corner shop instead of taking the car or using stairs instead of the lift wherever possible.

You don’t need to invest in a new wardrobe or a membership to get more active – just doing something that gets you warm and makes holding a conversation a little more difficult is enough to start gaining the health benefits.

Professor Mark Batt is a consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and a member of the NCSEM East Midlands.

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