Is exercise better than medicine?
Yes, it can be! Exercise is a miracle cure that can improve your health just by doing a little bit each day. It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a prescription to get some.
Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose. The nation’s health is now suffering as a consequence.
The good news is that whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life. People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.
Physical activity and exercise can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy levels, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Health benefits of exercise
Most people know that being physically active will improve their health so why is it important? It’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity and exercise have:
up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
a 30% lower risk of early death
up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
up to a 30% lower risk of depression
up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
How much physical activity and exercise should I be doing?
To stay healthy, adults should try to be active daily and aim to do 150 minutes of physical activity over a week. However, we recognise that this might be difficult, so we suggest starting small and build up slowly. Just doing 10 minutes a day will be a great start.
The easiest way to get moving is to make physical activity part of everyday life, like taking the kids to the park, going for a walk or cycling instead of using the car to get around.
The more you can do, the better. Once you feel ready, taking part in exercise classes and sport sessions once or twice a week will help you to reach 150 minutes. They are a fun way to meet people, socialise and improve your health.
Take a look at the section below for activities in your local area.
Activities near me
There are a variety of opportunities to get active, from health walks to badminton, swimming to dance. Whatever your age, interest or ability there is something to suit you. Take a look at these opportunities in your area provided by the Active Herts team and our partners.
Frequently Asked Questions
Please read our frequently asked questions for further information to help you get started.
I have not exercised in years. Is it safe for me to start now?
If you have not been active in a while it’s important to start out slowly and build up your level of fitness. Building up gradually will prevent injury and build your confidence levels. Your Get Active Specialist will always take your level of fitness into consideration when signposting you onto local activities for you to try.
How much physical activity do I need to do?
To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, stomach, chest, shoulders and arms).
75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running or a game of singles tennis every week, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, stomach, chest, shoulders and arms).
A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week. For example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking equates to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
One way to do your recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical activity is to do 30 minutes on 5 days a week. All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity.
I have a medical condition (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis or heart disease). Is it safe for me to exercise?
Exercise is safe for almost everyone. In fact, studies show that people with high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis or other cardiovascular risk factors can benefit from regular physical activity. In some cases, exercise can actually improve some of these conditions. If you have been referred to Active Herts by a Healthcare Professional they will make sure you are currently safe to exercise. If you have referred yourself and have concerns, you may want to talk with your GP about how your medical condition might affect your ability to be active.
I find it hard to get motivated to be active. What support is on offer?
This is where we come in! Take a look at our ‘free support’ section. Our Get Active Specialists will work together with you to develop a personal ‘get active’ plan that will make it simple for you to find ways to fit physical activity into your daily life.
You’re more likely to keep going if you choose activities you enjoy, if you can fit them into your schedule, if you believe you’ll benefit from them, and if you feel you can do them safely and correctly. We take all this into account to find the best activity to suit you. We’ll also help you to set realistic goals to help keep you motivated.
We also offer free, continued support throughout your fitness journey over a 12 month period. You can continue to contact and meet your Specialist depending on how much support you need.
I have had my initial consultation, but feel I am lacking in motivation and need more support. Can I access more free consultations?
Yes. We offer free consultations up to 12 weeks to help you get active. We will always give you a two week follow up phone call after your first consultation. However, should you wish to come in and see us again just contact us to arrange a convenient date. After 12 weeks we will contact you again at 6 months and 12 months to see if you have sustained your level of physical activity.