We all strive to be more active in our everyday life, but with busy jobs and hectic schedules, exercise can easily fall to the bottom of the priority list.
More than two thirds of Greater Manchester residents say they want to be more active than they already are and Public Health England estimates that more than four in 10 people do not do enough physical activity to achieve good health.
A new campaign called That Counts! is on a mission to help get two million people in Greater Manchester moving by 2021.
From Salford to Stockport, Tameside to Trafford and everywhere in between, the campaign hopes to encourage a more active lifestyle among residents by sharing easy ways to fit activity into everyday life.
The benefits of exercise are undeniable, helping to keep bodies strong and flexible as they age, and reducing the risk of serious health conditions and life limiting diseases.
It has also been proven to help alleviate conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety.
In children, moving more helps them to develop healthily, supporting bone and muscle growth, while helping with balance and co-ordination.
But how much do we really need to do to see the benefits? And what even counts as exercise?
How much do I need to do?
Where possible, adults should aim for two and a half hours of activity a week – that could be be 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Children should be active for seven hours a week – that’s 60 minutes or more every day.
As a starting point, adults should aim to get more than 30 minutes a week, and children should get at least 30 minutes every day.
The 30 minutes doesn’t necessarily need to be done all in one go either and can be broken into blocks of 10 minutes at a time.
Being active for 30 minutes a day doesn’t mean you have to start pumping iron or running an ultramarathon.
You don’t even have to buy any snazzy new lycra or sign up to a gym – simply anything that makes people move more counts.
Finding what works for you is key, that could be dancing with the kids, a kick-about in the park or walking the dog.
To make sure activity counts it needs to be for a minimum of 10 minutes, people need to feel slightly warmer, slightly out of breath and feel their heart beating a bit faster. Feeling a little sweaty is normal too.
Here are 10 simple ways to fit activity into your everyday life.
1. Dancing while you hoover
Make that regular spruce of your home that bit more active (and more fun) by dancing as you go.
Whether it’s hoovering, washing the dishes or hanging out the washing, adding a little movement into the task is a simple way to help you get your 30 minutes.
So, stick on some music and get groovy during your next clean up.
2. YouTube Yoga
Yoga is a great way to build strong muscles, increase flexibility and find your zen, but classes can be costly and only take place at certain times of day.
Yoga videos on YouTube are free and you can do them whenever you want, so fit easily into your routine.
Plus, there are hundreds of different videos of varying lengths and different styles so you can find something that suits you.
3. Getting off a stop earlier
Nobody is expecting you to spend hours walking to work instead of getting public transport, but getting off just one stop earlier could be an easy way to get a little more activity into your life.
Even if it means an extra 15 minutes of walking each way, for a return journey, that could count as your 30 minutes without taking too much time out of your day.
4. A long chat with Mum
Rather than a chat over the phone or sat on the sofa, take your catch up with outside and enjoy a pleasant stroll with your loved ones.
Doing an activity with someone else can help to motivate you and make it more enjoyable too.
5. Walking to school
Another simple way to fit in a daily stroll is to walk to school with the kids.
Children should be aiming for more than 60 minutes of exercise each day, so leaving the house 10 minutes earlier can help the whole family reach their daily target.
6. Getting muddy knees and green fingers
Whether it’s watering the plants, trimming a hedge or potting some herbs, gardening is a great way to get outside and stay active.
It’s also an activity that all the family can get stuck into, so dig out the trowels and enjoy a stint in the garden to get your 30 minutes as a team.
7. A kick about in the park
Playing catch, throwing a frisbee or kicking a ball around is a fun way to fit in your 30 minutes – and a competitive element can help distract from the effort of the activity.
So grab a ball and head to your nearest green space to play your way to your daily activity goal.
8. Armchair aerobics
For those of us who are less physically able, a new type of exercise routine has been created where people can get active without standing up.
Armchair aerobics, like any exercise, is designed to elevate your heart rate with specially designed activities that you can do sitting down.
So don’t let aches, pains or physical limitations get in the way of staying active.
9. Pushing to one lamp post more
Another great tactic for the elderly or those who struggle to walk is to take it one lamp post at a time.
This can break up the activity into small manageable chunks and provide markers to rest along the way.
Getting active is completely different for each individual so if this is enough for you, then it counts.
10. Getting back out for the first time
If you’ve been struggling to get out of the house for 30 minutes or even 30 seconds, any steps towards a more active lifestyle is a great start.
Whatever that means for you, if it’s taking the bins out, walking to the shop or simply doing a lap around the lounge, it all counts on the journey to a more active lifestyle.
Helen-Louise Smith, communications manager for GM Moving said: “Moving for just 30 minutes a day can be fun, social and bring loads of benefits, like feeling happier, more confident and sleeping well, as well as helping towards long-term health.
“It doesn’t have to be great feats of endurance, pumping iron or even counting steps. Whether it’s walking the kids to school, dancing while you hoover, joining a local session or getting off the bus a stop earlier – you can do it your own way. And if getting your 30 minutes in is difficult, try 30 moves or 30 stretches – it all counts.”
Take the first step towards a more active lifestyle today by finding what counts for you and make sure to share your efforts on social media tagging @ThatCountsGM and using the hashtag #ThatCountsGM.
For more information and tips visit: ThatCounts.co.uk.