It can include anything from gardening to cycling for part of your journey to work, says fitness expert Nicki Waterman.
“You don’t have to do it all in one go,” says Waterman. “Shorter bursts of activity throughout the day add up to the total amount.”
For the activity to count towards your 30 minutes, it should make you feel warm and slightly out of breath.
Write your 30 minutes of activity in a diary. It will help you to stay focused, and motivate you throughout the week.
“A diary will help you to plan and manage your physical activity,” says Waterman. “This will get you into the habit of doing some sort of physical activity everyday. Keeping fit will become part of your routine.”
Here are Waterman’s top tips for building exercise into your lifestyle:
The office worker
- Cycle or walk part, if not all, of your journey to work. Get off one bus or tube stop before your final destination.
- Discuss project ideas with a colleague at work while taking a walk.
- Stand while talking on the telephone.
- Walk over to someone's desk at work rather than speaking to them by phone.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift. Or get out of the lift a few floors early then use the stairs.
- Go for a walk during your lunch break. Try to find different walks, and alternate between them during the week.
- Use your lunch break to exercise. Your office may have a gym, or you may have access to a nearby swimming pool or squash courts.
- Walk your children to and from school. This will also help your kids to develop a pattern of physical activity.
- Exercise with your child. Take them to the swimming pool or play in the garden or park.
- Unappealing as it sounds, housework is a good workout, but it depends at what pace you do it. The most demanding activities include vacuuming, mopping, changing the bed linen, cleaning the windows, and scrubbing the bath and oven. “Put on some upbeat music,” says Waterman. “That’ll get you going and keep your pace up.”
- New parents often don't have time for exercise. But there are ways of squeezing it in while looking after a baby.
- If you’re going for a run, take the baby with you. There are baby wraps and baby backpacks. Jogging strollers have improved. There are also ways to take your baby with you when you're riding your bike.
- Exercise during your lunch break at work. You can do a lot in half an hour.
- Your workplace may have a gym where you can sign up for lunchtime fitness classes. There may be a swimming pool or racket club nearby.
- Remind yourself why you were previously active, what your motivations were and what you got out of it.
- Choose an activity you enjoy.
- Don't start exercising with the same intensity, frequency and duration as before.
- If you've been inactive for several years, start slowly and work your way up.
- The health benefits of physical activity are lost within 100 days of stopping exercise. But your experience of exercise will help you get back into it quicker than someone who's never been active.
- As you get older it's even more important to stay active. Exercise will help you to stay mobile and independent in your later years.
- Be active around the house. Cooking, housework and walking while you're on the phone can help to keep you mobile.
- Work in the garden or mow the grass. Pushing, bending, squatting, carrying, digging, pruning and picking things up will use different muscle groups, and improve your balance and co-ordination.
- Go out for a short walk. Start with five to 10 minutes, then gradually do 30 minutes, increasing the pace from leisurely to brisk.
- Consider community-based activities in your area.
- Conservation groups can be a great way to get involved in improving your local environment and being active at the same time.
- Children should aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Encourage children to take part in regular physical activity. This can include sports at school or in the community, such as rollerblading, running, swimming, football or rugby.
- Make physical activity part of your child's routine.
- Walk or cycle short distances, rather than driving.
- Plan walks in the park.
- Use stairs instead of escalators or lifts.
- Get children to help you with the housework.
- Try to be a good role model: if you're physically active, your child is more likely to follow your example