Physical Activity

As well as eating a balanced diet, in order to achieve optimum health we also need to exercise regularly. To keep your joints and muscles healthy you need to use them. Movement helps to pump blood around your body, bringing nutrients to tissues and removing waste products.

How Much exercise should I do to stay healthy?

It is recommended that adults do at least

  • 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity* every week + strength-based exercises† on 2 or more days a week


  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity** every week + strength-based exercises† on 2 or more days a week


  • A mixture of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week + strength-based exercises† on 2 or more days a week.

How Much exercise should I do to lose weight?

If your goal is to lose weight and you do not usually do regular physical activity you should start with the recommended amounts of weekly activity as this is often all you need to do to start losing weight. If you wish to lose weight at a faster rate you should increase the frequency of vigorous aerobic activity but do not neglect your strength exercises as increasing muscle mass will help to increase your metabolic rate. Listen to your body and do not push yourself too hard too quickly. You may not be able to start with the full weekly recommended amount of exercise. Start small then gradually increase frequency/duration/resistance as your strength and ability increases.

If you are trying to lose weight it is important that as well as regular exercise, you eat the right food to provide your body with the best nutrition. You may find some helpful tips for weight loss here.

Exercise definitions

*moderate aerobic activity will increase your heart rate and breathing rate but you should still be able to talk. It includes fast walking, swimming, cycling (on level ground or with few hills), hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, doubles tennis.

**Vigorous aerobic activity also increases your heart rate, will make you breathe hard and fast and you will struggle to say more than a few words without pausing for breath. It includes jogging or running, swimming fast, cycling quickly or on hills, fitness classes such as boot-camp, boxercise and aerobics, circuit training singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, martial arts, dancing.

Strength-based exercises should be done in addition to the exercise described above. They are counted in repetitions and sets. Try to do a minimum of one full set with 8-12 repetitions in each set – to get health benefits from these you should do them until you will struggle to complete another set. Examples of strength exercises include weight lifting, using your own body weight such as push-ups or sit-ups, heavy gardening, Pilates.

Muscle strength is necessary to build and maintain healthy bones, to help regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure and to help maintain a healthy weight. Some forms of vigorous aerobic activity also count as muscle strengthening exercises, such as most fitness classes, running, football, netball and rugby. Remember muscle strengthening exercises alone should not replace aerobic activity.

If you’re a busy mama struggling to fit exercise into your daily routine you might find these suggestions from other mamas helpful…