Let's get better logo NHS logo

Let’s Make a Start – tips to improve your activity levels

Even gentle exercise can improve your health and wellbeing. Why not think about adding more movement into your life to keep your mind and body happy and healthy.

Even gentle exercise can improve your health and wellbeing. You don’t have to pay huge sums of money for expensive memberships or equipment or torture yourself doing something you hate. Instead, why not think about trying to add more movement into your life to keep your mind and body happy and healthy.

Top tips

  • The best exercise you can do is the one you enjoy and the one you can do regularly. Anyone can do something they dislike every day for a week, if you even last that long! This doesn’t compare to the benefits of doing something you look forward to doing once a week for the next 20 years.
  • Physical activity doesn’t have to be structured and formal. It could be a walk around your town, dancing in the living room, stretching, or gardening.
  • Choose something that feels good. Who doesn’t want an effective, joyful way to start their morning, decompress after work, spend time with others, or stretch their muscles?
  • Aim to meet the recommendations. There are so many ways you might do this.
  • Do it with others- with a friend, with family, or join a class. This can add to the enjoyment and keep you accountable.
  • Or it could be an opportunity for some time to yourself.
  • Learn a new skill, such as Pilates, climbing or golf.
  • Reduce your sedentary time. Regardless of how active you are, reducing your time spent sitting still has additional health benefits.
  • Snack on activity. Little and often can be easier than one longer session, such as 3 x 10-minute brisk walks rather than 1 x 30-minute walk.

Putting this into action

Having the knowledge and understanding is only part of the puzzle. We all know what we ought to be doing; that doesn’t mean we do it. Take some time to think about the following points so you have a clear plan of what you will do and how.

  • What are your reasons to increase activity? More energy, more confidence, or better stress management? Reminding yourself of these will help motivate you. If you have more than one reason for doing it, it is easier to adapt if your circumstances change or your goal shifts.
  • What might prevent you from achieving your goal and how you will overcome this. Anticipating problems before they arise puts us in a better position to deal with them.
  • Start small and don’t try to change multiple things at once. Changing one thing a small amount is easy to do, immediately rewarding and quickly becomes a habit to build on.
  • Set SMART goals


A specific goal is much more likely to be accomplished than a general one. To help you make your goal specific, think about Who, What, Where, When and Why


A measurable goal lets you know if you are making progress. Are you walking faster or longer distances, are you lifting heavier weights, are you active more often or managing the stress of daily life better? When your goal is measurable you can manage your progress. Ask yourself ‘how much’ or ‘how many’?


You need to know you will be able to achieve your goals in the given time. They should slightly challenge you but not to an extent that they demotivate you if you are unable to meet your target


A relevant goal is one that is important to you. Think about your reasons for making a change.


A time-bound goal helps you to visualise how it will fit into your life. Think how frequently and for how long you will do the activity. E.g. you might start doing something for 20 minutes, twice a week.