Staying active is key to good health, with the NHS advising us to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or brisk walking, each week plus strength exercises on two or more days each week.
Of course, not everyone can or wants to become an elite athlete, but the benefits of even moderate physical activity, as the NHS advises, are clear. Research shows that regular exercise can lower the risk of developing many long-term conditions, as well as boosting mental well-being, quality of sleep and energy levels.
It’s always worth visiting your GP if you have any underlying health conditions that might affect your ability to exercise safely.
In our latest Healthy Diet Plan, we’ve highlighted recipes that are particularly beneficial after exercise as they supply a suitable balance of protein and carbohydrates. If you haven’t already, sign up today to receive free online access to the plan.
Three tips to increase your activity levels
1. Find an exercise you enjoy
If your aim is to increase the amount of activity you do, it’s a good idea to choose an activity you really enjoy. The more you like what you’re doing, the more likely you are to stick with it in the long term. Walking, running or cycling outdoors in your local area can be a great way to get some fresh air while you work out. Online yoga, pilates or dance classes can be a great way to increase flexibility and get your heart rate up. A great tip would be to exercise with a friend – it’s a wonderful way to stay on track and have more fun. Arrange a walking coffee date or meet a friend to try a new exercise class – you’re much more likely to stick to the commitment as you don’t want to let someone down!
Read more tips on how to exercise for free and see our review of the best fitness trackers.
2. Protein and carbs are key
In order to aid recovery, base your post-exercise meal on starchy carbs and lean sources of protein. This combination helps replenish fuel stores and aids muscle repair. Ensuring you recover adequately from exercise is a great way to advance your progress – as our muscles need fuel to recover and grow – which helps to encourage ongoing exercise. So, refuelling correctly is a sure-fire way to boost overall activity levels!
Sign up to our free Healthy Diet Plan to get nutritionally balanced recipes that deliver a good hit of protein and carbs.
3. Eat carbs within 30-60 minutes of exercise
Your muscles are most receptive in the 30-60 minute window following exercise, so eat some carbs in this time frame if you can. If that’s not possible, as a minimum have a snack or drink that supplies carbs with some protein, such as a glass of milk. Remember to drink plenty of hydrating fluids and if your exercise is physically strenuous, include some sodium to replace any lost through perspiration.
Find out how much water you should drink each day.
Enjoyed this? Get more health tips:
Your FREE Summer 2023 healthy diet plan
What to eat for a workout
How to work out at home
The best fitness trackers
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. Any Healthy Diet Plan featured by BBC Good Food is provided as a suggestion of a general balanced diet and should not be relied upon to meet specific dietary requirements. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.