September is a busy month in many different ways – new routines are usually forged as the children get back to school and we face into the winter months. September is also the month for National Fitness Day on the 24th and Get Ireland Walking Day on the 27th. These days are to help highlight the importance of physical activity and how we can squeeze it into our daily routines.
There is significant evidence that physical activity of moderate intensity promotes wellbeing, physical and mental health, prevents disease, improves quality of life and has economic, social and cultural benefits. These benefits apply to all people, irrespective of gender, ability, disability, size or age.
Being physically active improves our wellbeing and ability to function better at work and home. It improves our muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness, bone density and cognitive function. It increases the likelihood of maintaining weight and preventing weight gain and our ability to manage stress.
The National guidelines on physical activity for Ireland advise the following amount of exercise per age group;
- All children and young people should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day. This should include muscle-strengthening, flexibility and bone-strengthening exercises 3 times a week.
- Adults should be active for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week (or 150 minutes a week).
- Older people (aged 65+) should be active for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week, or 150 minutes a week with a focus on aerobic activity, muscle strengthening and balance.
- People with disabilities should be as active as their ability allows. Aim to meet adult guidelines of at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on 5 days a week.
Getting out for a walk is one of the easiest forms of exercise available to us particularly in regards to time and location. Some quick tips to prepare and keep motivated would be;
- Why not track your walk on your phone by recording steps/distance covered.
- If you are walking with other people you can chat and catch up on their latest news or if you enjoy listening to music you could bring it with you, just check that you can hear the traffic.
- Keeping a record of your walks will show you how much you have done.
- If you have an arrangement to walk regularly with somebody else, it’s easier to keep going.
- Starting to walk at a slow pace and gradually increasing it will help you gain confidence – start off too fast and you may not finish the walk or be put off.
- Doing a short stretching warm-up at the start will help limber up your body; while a short cool-down at the end is also good.