Be Active

What does being active look like?

What do we mean when we talk about being active? Any kind of physical activity is good for you, and whether you’re just starting out or looking for ways to increase your fitness, a great way to begin is by looking at our Top 10 Tips. Check out our Exercises page too.

Information and images from GOV.UK (

Benefits of being physically active

Regular activity improves both your physical and mental health and can provide social benefits. It can also help prevent or manage conditions such as dementia, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Additionally, it can help keep symptoms under control and prevent new conditions developing.

  • Reduces the risk of lots of long-term conditions
  • Can help manage existing conditions
  • Helps keep your bones and muscles strong
  • Helps you meet people and make new friends in your area
  • Can help children and young adults improve behaviour and educational achievements
  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight
  • Can help improve quality of life for people with long-term health conditions

How physical activity can help you

Types of physical activity

Strength and balance activity

  • Muscle strength, bone health and the ability to balance are essential for us to function physically
  • Benefits of muscle and bone strengthening activity at different ages:
    • 18-24: Helps to maximise bone and muscle strength
    • 40-50: Helps maintain strength and slow the natural decline of muscle mass and bone density
    • Over 65: Helps ensure you stay strong and can live a healthy, independent life
  • Adults should do activities to develop or maintain strength on at least 2 days a week. Start by focusing on the main areas of the body and gradually build the duration and intensity of your workouts

Cardiovascular activity

Cardiovascular activity is any form of activity that increases your heart rate and breathing rate for a sustained period of time.  It can benefit the body in many ways, but it mainly helps to improve our lung function, heart health and the condition of our bones and muscles.

Each week adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity or even shorter durations of very vigorous intensity activity (such as sprinting or stair climbing), or a combination of moderate, vigorous and very vigorous intensity activity.

What counts as very vigorous activity?

Very vigorous activities are exercises performed in short bursts of maximum effort broken up with rest. This type of exercise is also known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Examples of very vigorous activities include1:

  • lifting heavy weights
  • circuit training
  • sprinting up hills
  • interval running
  • running up stairs
  • spinning classes

Sedentary behavior

Where possible, breaking up prolonged periods of sitting with some light activity can be beneficial for your wellbeing. Too much time sitting down can lead to a worsening or increased risk of developing certain illnesses. Visit our top tips page for some ideas on how you can reduce your sedentary behavior.

Physical activity guidelines

Exercise Guidelines for Young People (5-18)

Children and young people need to do two main types of physical activity. These are:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Strengthening and balance
  • Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per day, across the week

Link to physical activity for children and young people 5-to-18 years PDF

Exercise Guidelines for Adults (19-64)

  • Each week, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate intensity activity
  • Alternatively, you could choose to do 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, even shorter durations of very vigorous intensity activity (such as sprinting or stair climbing), or a combination of intensities

Link to physical activity for adults and older adults PDF

Exercise Guidelines for Older Adults (65+)

  • Each week, older adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity aerobic activity, building up gradually from current levels

Link to physical activity for adults and older adults PDF

If you want to get more active, go to Get Berkshire Active to find out what is available in your local area Get Berkshire Active – Our Programmes