Creating Exercise Opportunities in Fitness Deserts

Creating Exercise Opportunities in Fitness Deserts (Photo credit: spotreporting)

Like most people, two of my New Year’s Resolutions are to sit less and move more. This can actually be a bit of a challenge for an English teacher such as myself, as much of my time is spent sitting at a table with small groups of adults. I might occasionally get out of my chair to write something on the board, but even if I stood instead of sitting all the time, it wouldn’t make much difference. However, on the plus side, it is about 3 km to my main workplace, so I walk or bike there whenever I can.

Anyway, one question on many people’s minds is: how much is enough exercise? In order to answer this question I did a little research on the UK Department of Health website and found some useful fact-sheets. Here is a summary of the one for 19-64 year-olds (other age groups, including small children, have their own fact-sheets on the website). I’m sure this info is not new to you, but it’s funny how often we need reminding 😉

1. Adults from 19-64 should aim to be active daily and, over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more.

2. Alternatively, similar benefits can be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week, or combinations of moderate and vigorous activity.

3. Adults should also try to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week.

4. All adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for long periods.

Moderate physical activities will cause adults to get warmer and breathe harder and their hearts to beat faster, but they should still be able to carry on a conversation. Examples include brisk walking and cycling.

Vigorous physical activities will cause adults to get warmer and breathe much harder and their hearts to beat rapidly, making it more difficult to carry on a conversation. Examples include running, swimming and football.


Physical activities that strengthen muscles involve using body weight or working against a resistance, and all major muscle groups should be included. Examples include, exercising with weights and also carrying or moving heavy loads such as groceries.

Ways of minimising sedentary behaviour:
Reducing time spent watching TV, using the computer or playing video games
Taking regular breaks at work
Breaking up sedentary time such as swapping a long bus or car journey for walking part of the way.

What are the benefits of being active daily?
• Reduces risk of a range of diseases, e.g. coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes
• Helps maintain a healthy weight
• Helps maintain ability to perform everyday tasks with ease
• Improves self-esteem
• Reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety

Original Fact-sheet © Crown copyright 2011.(Web only)