5 Ways to Wellbeing: Be Active

Physical activity is one of our most powerful tools for promoting positive wellbeing. Being active improves our wellbeing, happiness, sleep and reduces the risk of chronic diseases and cancer. It also helps treat many health problems including anxiety and depression.

It is important to realise that being more active does not just mean joining a gym. Being active outdoors and making use of nature’s ‘green gym’ is particularly beneficial as exposure to natural sunlight, combined with physical activity, increases levels of serotonin, which is vital to our feelings of wellbeing. Physical activity in nature has also been shown to lower blood pressure, improve brain fatigue, improve immune system and stress.

Reduce time spent sitting. Sitting for long periods of time has been shown to significantly increase the risk of early death, chronic diseases and cancer. Going for a 10 mile run at the end of long day at work sitting does not negate these risks, the damage is done. Look at our ideas to increase activity in your day and decrease sitting time in the dropdown section below.

  • Did you know standing for 3 hours a day is the equivalent of running 10 marathons a year!!!!
  • Did you know if you exercise for just 10 minutes a day you can add nearly two years to your life, increase your exercise to the recommended guidelines and add more than three years!

Increasing activity levels at work

  • Walk to the waiting room to call patients in rather than use a buzzer system
  • Get a standing desk! Desks are available that slide up and down so you can move according to your consultation needs. You may also wish to consider an under-desk exercise bike.

Case study from local GP: “I have a standing desk that was purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon (£90) that can be easily adjusted up and down. I sit to consult and then stand to issue prescriptions and then type when the patient has left and to do admin. I am significantly less fatigued at the end of the day, it opens discussions with patients about the health benefits of moving more and has significantly reduced my consultation times as when I stand to issue a script or print a leaflet it neatly serves to signal the end of the consultation. I have had nothing but positive feedback from patients.”

  • Stand to make telephone calls
  • Instead of sending messages to colleagues walk to speak in person
  • Go to the toilet when you need to!
  • Do 10 hand weights reps or squats between every patient.
  • Five minute walk. No matter how busy your day is, allow yourself a five minute walk. Set the timer on your phone for 2.5 minutes and walk as far as you can, when you reach 2.5 minutes turn around and walk back. We guarantee you will feel more alert and able to manage the demands of the day you will feel. It’s surprising how many steps you can accumulate in only five minutes out of your day.

Free Physical Activity For Clinical Care Training Session

Dr Helen Garr is your local PHE clinical champion for physical activity and offers free practical and interactive sessions based on the latest national and international data, research and evidence.

Training is aimed at teams of health care professionals to help increase their understanding of physical activity’s potential for clinical impact and increase their confidence in delivering brief interventions as a method of clinical care.

Did you know one in four patients would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse, but only one in four GPs are broadly or very familiar with national physical activity guidelines.

To book your free session email the PHE team at physicalactivity@phe.gov.uk.

Useful Articles

Easiest thing for your health this year

GP and author Dr Juliet McGrattan has kindly produce the following article for this website:

Did you know, there is a single, very simple resolution that you can make this year that will improve your health? It doesn’t need a vision board. It doesn’t need breaking down into chunks to be achievable. It won’t take up any of your time and it doesn’t require sweaty selfies on social media to prove you’re doing it. What is it? MOVE MORE!

Yes, the simple act of sitting less and moving more in your day-to-day life will have a huge effect on your health this year.

19% of men and 26% of women in England are classed as ‘physically inactive’, which means they do less than 30 minutes of moderate activity a week. In the Health Survey for England the average time spent sitting (on weekdays) was 4.9 hours for men and 4.7 hours for women. At the weekend, men were being sedentary for an average of 5.4 hours and women for 5.1 hours. So, women are less sedentary then men (just) and as a nation we’re moving less at the weekend than we are during the week.

Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths in the UK (the same number as smoking) and up to 40% of many long-term conditions, so we need to address this – urgently. If you’re interested, you can read more about this and Public Health England’s approach to tackling the problem here.

But what if you sit all day at work and then stop off for a gym class on the way home? What if you do parkrun on a Saturday before making yourself comfy on the sofa for a weekend of Netflix? Surely that’s OK because you’ve done the exercise bit? Errr, well, sorry but no, it doesn’t work like that.

There are risks associated with your sedentary behaviour that can’t simply be negated by a 30-minute exercise binge. This is why the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines on physical activity have, ‘Sit Less’ as one of its recommendations in addition to, ‘Be Active’.

So what does this mean for all of us and our resolutions?

There’s no rocket science about this. Our bodies were designed to move. Our internal batteries will get crusted up if we don’t use the charge they’re constantly producing. Our metabolism will switch into storage mode and we’ll gain fat. Quite simply, we’ll be less healthy and increase our risk of major health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

All you have to do is MOVE MORE. It’s simple. Break up your sitting time. Just two minutes of moving around every 30 minutes will give you benefit. Go to the upstairs toilet during the ad breaks. Put your printer on the other side of the room at work. Go and speak to a colleague instead of sending an email. Stand instead of sit on the train or bus and get off a stop early. Park your car at the far side of the supermarket car park. Consider a standing desk. We’re all supposed to drink more water so here’s a reason to visit the tap – you’ll need the toilet more frequently, too! Meet a friend for a walk instead of a sit-down coffee. Set an alarm on your watch, phone or computer screen to remind you to move, it’s easy to forget.

You’ll suddenly realise how much you sit but also how easy it is to reduce that behaviour. Gradually it will become a habit. And to those of you with young kids who are laughing reading this and are longing for the chance to sit down (I know how that feels), well, take some solace from the fact that your children are actually making you healthy – although it may not feel like it at the time!

So, just make this one change in your day-to-day life this year and every year to come. By sitting less and moving more you’ll be heading for a healthier you without a vision board or sweaty selfie in sight!
Read more inspiring things about health and how to be more active in Juliet McGrattan’s excellent blog.

Useful Websites

  • Yoga with Adrienne: Free yoga website with a large following and recommended to this page by many doctors
  • One You: This is an excellent evidence-based health and wellbeing site from PHE. Take the health test now and start the fight back to a healthier you. There is also an interactive quiz to evaluate your health and wellbeing and suggestions and plans to improve your health.
  • Notts Women Runners is an inclusive, friendly group for ladies across Nottinghamshire. What started as a couple of friends who wanted to find someone to run with has become Notts’ largest and newest England Athletics-affiliated running club. But what makes Notts Women Runners different from other running clubs is their focus on getting complete beginners out running and loving it – and all totally FREE!
  • This Girl Can is a celebration of active women who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets. Funded by The National Lottery and developed by Sport England, their aim is to help women overcome the fear of judgement that is stopping too many women and girls from joining in.


  • Couch to 5k: Go from couch to the ability to run 5km in just nine weeks with this excellent app.
  • Active 10: Free Active 10 app takes away the guesswork. It shows how much brisk walking you’re doing and how you can do more. It’s easy to use and helps you set your goals for the day.


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