Staying independent

Looking after your health and wellbeing

"I’d like to know how to stay healthy and well in my community."

Keeping active

Do you want to continue living at home?

We know it's important to stay independent for as long as possible, in your own home.

Staying active is a very important to maintain your independence and reduce your need for care later on in life. Research has shown we’re generally not as active as we use to be, mainly because we rely more on technology like washing machines, cars and computers, so it’s important to consider if you are meeting the weekly recommended levels for exercise and any changes you need to make to be more active.

Being physically active can:

  • reduce the risk of you becoming ill. Read about the health benefits
  • improve your mood and mental wellbeing
  • help you get a good night’s sleep
  • lead to greater involvement in your local community and new friendships.

Health benefits

It’s no secret that being active is good for your health, but more importantly it has been medically proven that for people who do regular physical activity, the risk of:

  • coronary heart disease and stroke is up to 35% lower
  • type 2 diabetes is up to a 50% lower
  • colon cancer is up to 50% lower
  • breast cancer is up to 20% lower
  • osteoarthritis is up to 83% lower
  • hip fracture is up to 68% lower
  • falls is 30% lower (for older adults)
  • depression is up to 30% lower
  • dementia is up to 30% lower
  • early death is 30% lower.

Recommended exercise levels

As an adult, you should aim to be active every day. Even a small amount of activity is good for you, and more is better still.

Aged 19 to 64?

The NHS recommends that you should:

  • do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity. This can be over one or more days, and you can do a mix of both if you prefer
  • do strengthening activities that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) at least two days a week
  • reduce the amount of time you spend sitting or lying down
  • break up long periods of not moving, such as while working at a computer, with some activity.

These guidelines are also suitable for disabled adults, pregnant women and new mothers.

Learn more about exercise levels and activities on the NHS website.

Please note: you should make sure the type and intensity of your activity is appropriate for your level of fitness.

Aged 65 and over

The NHS recommends that you should:

  • do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity if you are already active, or a combination of both
  • do activities that improve strength, balance and flexibility at least two days a week
  • reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity. Even light activity, such as making a cup of tea or making the bed is better than none.

Learn more about exercise levels and activities on the NHS website.

Please note: you should make sure the type and intensity of your activity is appropriate for your level of fitness.

Fitness and disability

You don’t need to have full mobility to experience the health benefits of exercise. If injury, disability, illness, or weight problems have limited your mobility, there are still plenty of ways you can use exercise to:

  • boost your mood
  • ease depression
  • relieve stress and anxiety
  • enhance your self-esteem
  • improve your whole outlook on life.

You can find information and advice on how to get active with a disability on the NHS website.

Our top tips to get active

  1. Don’t stay in one position too long

Make sure you get up and move about regularly with these handy tips:

  • Set a timer to remind yourself to get up at regular intervals.
  • If you are watching TV, make a point of moving or stretching each time a programme finishes, or in the ad breaks.
  • While you are boiling the kettle, try a light activity such as putting your dishes away or having a quick wander around the garden.
  • If you are working at a desk, try standing up instead of sitting. This will strengthen your legs and back.
  1. Find new ways to travel

Try adjusting the way you travel to work or the local shops.

  • Before grabbing your car keys to go somewhere, think about walking or cycling there instead.
  • If you are travelling on the bus, consider getting off one stop early to walk the rest of the way.
  • If you drive somewhere, don’t park as close as you normally would - a short walk to your destination counts!
  1. Try a new hobby

There are lots of hobbies that require you to get more active, and most of the time you won’t even notice as you’ll be having too much fun. Here are some examples:

  • Gardening is a great way to start moving about and using your muscles.
  • A craft project like sewing a new pair of curtains will get you moving your arms and legs. If you fit the curtains yourself, you’ll be stretching and lifting too.
  • If you take up something like birdwatching or golf, you’ll do plenty of walking.
  • Enjoy sports? You could join a local football, netball or hockey team - or you could just challenge your family to a game in the local park.
  1. Find an activity you’ll enjoy

You’ll find it much easier to get active if you enjoy what you are doing - and you are less likely to quit!

  • Take your dog for daily walks on the beach or local woods - you could even sign up for agility classes!
  • Check out the exercise classes at your local leisure centre or gym.
  1. Join up with others

Getting active is more fun when you buddy up with others, such as family or friends.

  • Ask a friend to take a daily stroll with you - and enjoy a cuppa afterwards!
  • If you are naturally competitive, set a challenge for you and your family, such as who can do the most steps in a day.
  • Nip down to the local park for a game of frisbee or football.
  • Introduce new family activities, such as treasure hunts or fruit picking.
  • See if your friends are already part of a local workout or dance class and ask if you can join them.

More tips are available on the NHS Better Health website.