Sport and fitness

There are different ways to improve your fitness or enjoy sport without joining a gym or playing sport competitively. You could cycle, run, walk or join a local sports club. Being active is good for your physical and mental health.

Benefits of being active

Physical exercise keeps your joints and body organs in good working order. Being active can also:

  • maintain your weight at a healthy level
  • protect you against colds and coughs
  • increase your energy level

You may also sleep better and be able to cope better with stress and anxiety. Knowing that you're looking and feeling good can boost your self-confidence.

Increasing the exercise you do

You can increase your activity level by:

  • walking more
  • increasing your physical effort when doing jobs at home or in the garden
  • getting involved in a regular activity you enjoy, such as dancing or swimming

When you do exercise, the activity should increase your heart rate and make you feel warmer.

Exercise level for your age

If you're over 18, you should try to do 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.

If you're under 18, you should do about  60 minutes of physical activity every day. You can spread this throughout the day, doing 10 or 15 minute sessions.

Your exercise can include:

  • going to the gym
  • walking up stairs instead of taking the lift

Before you start exercising

If you want to do exercise, it's important to see your doctor before you start. They can examine you. They'll tell you if you have any health conditions that can limit the type of exercise you do, for example knee or back pain.

Including exercise in your day

You don't need to join a gym or give up your free time to exercise. Include your exercise in your normal routine by:

  • walking to school, college or work
  • cycling to school, college or work
  • jogging or running around the local area

Team sports

Getting fit isn't just something you have to do by yourself. Playing a team sport like football, hockey or netball is great exercise and is often more enjoyable when you're with a group of friends.

Ask the local council about sports clubs and activities in your area. If you're a student at school, college or university, you could get involved with their sports groups or teams. 

Sport and fitness in Northern Ireland

If you want information about local sport clubs and groups, contact Sport NI, They can tell you about sports organisations in your area.  

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