How Fit Are You?

It is a good idea to assess your level of fitness before you start any regular activity. You may be surprised at the amount of activity you already do, or you may feel that you want to do more. You can assess your fitness by answering the following questions:

• Can you climb one or two flights of stairs without being short of breath or feeling heaviness or fatigue in your legs?
• Do you normally take the stairs rather than the escalator or elevator?
• Are you able to maintain a conversation during light to moderate activity such as walking?
• Would you walk for 10 minutes rather than take the car?
• Do you do 30 minutes of moderate activity that makes you feel warmer and breathe harder at least five times a week?

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, you could benefit from fitting more activity into your daily routine.

Increasing Your Level of Activity

Before stating any new activity, you may want to consult your health professional fist. If you have been very inactive, start slowly. For example, if you want to start running, begin by walking more and jogging for short spells between walking.

If you are very inactive

Try starting with simple extra movements, such as manually changing the channel on the TV rather than using the remote control, leaving the phone away from you so that you have to move to answer it, or walking around the room before sitting down. You could gradually increase the number of times you do these activities, and set yourself targets, such as not sitting down for more than an hour at a time.

If you are moderately active

Try to build upon the amount of activity you already do by, for example, adding an extra 5-10 minutes to your walk, bike ride, gardening session, or swim. Or increase the intensity of an activity. Set yourself a longer-term goal, such as a 5-mile walk in a month’s time, training for a charity swim, or joining an aerobics class.

If you are regularly active

The most important thing is to stay motivated by keeping activities varied, doing activities with family or friends, or linking activity with a reward: a brisk walk to see a friend, a bike ride ending in a drink or meal, or a hot bath after the gym.

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