Bright nights the perfect opportunity to get out and exercise

get active

With the clocks set to go forward this weekend and the nights getting brighter, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging everyone to use it as an opportunity to increase their levels of physical activity.

Colette Brolly, the PHA’s lead on physical activity, said: “A stretch in the evenings means that we have more opportunity to get involved in physical activity.

“There are loads of ways to be more active – many of them perfect for anyone who’s not been physically active for a while, such as walking, gardening swimming or playing outside with the kids. Over the dark winter months it can be easy to get stuck in a routine of staying inside and being less active, but the bright nights are a great opportunity to get out and get active.”

One of the best ways get active is to increase your step count and get walking.

A brisk walk can reduce anxiety, help manage your weight, reduce blood pressure and help you sleep better. Walking is completely free can be added into your daily routine through small things like walking to the shop, school or work instead of taking the car.

“The average number of steps a person takes each day is between 3,000 and 4,000, so most of us could do with getting a bit more active,” said Colette.

Top tips on building more activity into your day:

  • Try walking or cycling for either part of, or your entire, journey to work;
  • If you have to drive or take the bus, park the car a little further away from your destination or hop off the bus a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way;
  • When you’re out and about or in work, take the stairs instead of the lift to get your legs moving;
  • During your lunch break, go for a walk rather than sitting at your desk. A 10-minute brisk walk adds to your recommended physical activity target;
  • When you get home in the evening, instead of slouching in front of the TV, go for a walk. Get the kids involved too and go to the park with them on their bikes or for a kick about with the football.

There are free walking groups arranged by your local Health and Social Care Trust, and the details can be found on the PHA’s website

The website also offers lots of tips on the best ways to get active and also advice on healthy eating and setting targets for getting healthier.

Notes to the editor
  • Physical activity is very important to our health and wellbeing.
  • The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) recommends that adults should be aiming for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days (at least five days) each week. For health benefits activities should last 10 minutes or more.
  • Children should have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. Any physical activity however is better than none.
  • Being physically active can help improve mental health by lifting mood, reducing anxiety and helping to protect against depression. Being physically active helps maintain a healthy weight and can reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer.