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The benefits of being more physically active

There are many advantages to being active. Some you'll notice straight away and some that happen over time.

Even a small increase in activity can benefit your health and wellbeing, but it's not just about health. Some benefits are almost immediate, such as feeling energised and less stressed.

Doing something that increases your heart rate for just 10 minutes at a time can improve your physical and mental health.

If you want to know more about how much activity you should be doing,  try our quiz.

The instant benefits of increasing physical activity

These can include:

  • Having more energy. Doing something active or exercising at times when you feel sluggish, such as after work, can give you more energy rather than making you more tired.
  • Improving mood. Activity can make the brain release more of the chemicals that make us feel happy. This is good for general wellbeing, but can also be a good way to help manage mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.
  • Improved sleep
  • Financial benefits. If you walk or cycle where you might usually drive or take the bus, you will have saved money straight away.

Benefits you'll gain in the longer term

These can include:

  • Stronger muscles, bones and joints. These all lead to better balance which can prevent falls and injuries.
  • Reduced risk of many common long-term conditions. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia and several cancers (such as breast, bowel and uterine).
  • Reduced risk of mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression
  • Better control of your weight
  • Living longer and spending more years in good health

Benefits that go beyond your health

These can include:

  • Being active with friends and family can reduce feelings of social isolation. It can make you feel connected with others and boost your mood.
  • Doing activities outdoors makes you aware of the nature around you and the changing seasons. It also helps you to get to know your neighbourhood better. Many of us have experienced these benefits first-hand during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Reduced air pollution. Air pollution can increase asthma symptoms and deaths and contributes to climate change. Walking or cycling instead of driving cuts your carbon emissions and benefits the environment.

What's next

Learn more about the types of activity you should do.

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