How to get fit: improve your fitness with these easy lifestyle changes

It’s never too late to start exercising
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  • How to get fit and reduce your fitness age with some simple lifestyle changes.

    Want to improve your body and brain? This is how to get fit. You don’t have to push yourself hard – just 10 minutes a day reap positive benefits. “The Government recommends adults and older adults build up to 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week (or 75 minutes vigorous intensity) for maximum health benefits,” says Dr Anna Lowe, physical activity clinical champion for Public Health England. “Even if you aren’t currently very active any small increase in activity levels really helps.”

    The good news is that before lockdown, Sport England – whose mission is to get everyone to take part in sport and physical activity regardless of age, background or ability level – conducted its Active Lives Adult Survey. The results showed rising activity levels, with 63% of adults doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week.

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    Benefits of exercise

    What activity does is reduce inflammation. This isn’t conjecture – studies have proved that ageing and chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and dementia are all linked the body’s inflammatory response. Incorporating daily activities that get you nearly out of breath but allow you to talk increase your heart rate. These include brisk walks, gardening and housework.

    “As well as upping activity levels, you need to avoid too much sitting,” says Stuart Biddle, professor of physical activity and health at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. “Our research found that lying down, watching TV and sitting at the computer increased metabolic syndrome – a cluster of high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol – by 73%.”

    “Exercise keeps our metabolism working well, so the energy we take in from food fuels our movement rather than being stored as fat,” explains says fitness trainer Julia Buckley. “It also helps regulate insulin levels, lowers blood pressure and keeps us mobile. Together, this is a powerful package for keeping metabolic disorders like stroke, diabetes and heart disease at bay.”

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    Your fitness age

    One reliable measure of your body’s age is not how old you are, but your fitness level. “Sports scientists look at how our fitness levels, or ‘fitness age’, affect our longevity and health,” says Julia. “Fitter people tend to live longer and suffer fewer ailments associated with ageing. So, a fitter person could be considered ‘younger’ than someone less fit of the same age. We can change our fitness age simply by improving our fitness.”

    WorldFitnessLevel.org backs this theory. It states that ‘your body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise is the most precise measure of overall cardiovascular fitness’. Discover your fitness age with its online fitness age calculator. Use the result as a guide to reduce your fitness age, become fitter, and improve your life.

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    How to get fit and stay fit

    Choose exercises that work for you, and have attainable goals. So, opt for something you enjoy; for example, if you like to socialise pick dance classes or group activities. If you’re easily bored try something new such as fencing or open water swimming, and if you’re goal-oriented set a target that’s challenging but achievable, such as a Couch to 5K run.

    Write down weekly activities that you’ll benefit from, from weeding to a yoga class. And never think you’re too old! There are many effective exercises for seniors to improve quality of life (consult a doctor first if you have health issues).

    See our gallery to learn how to incorporate these fitness tips into your life:

    • Easy lifestyle changes
    • Use technology
    • Buddy up
    • Work smart
    • 10 minute brisk walk
    • Build a home gym
    • Stretches
    • 12 minute gentle jog
    • 10 minute fast run
    • Open water swimming
    • 20 minute bike ride
    • 4×4 interval training
    • 60 minute dance class

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