Why is physical activity important?

Many people with health conditions and associated symptoms worry that physical activity will harm them.

In fact, the opposite is true.  It is physical inactivity that can cause problems for your health and wellbeing.

Being active and taking exercise is one of the most important things you can do.  As little as half an hour each day can make a difference.

Exercise isn’t just about building muscle.  It can have many other benefits too:

  • Social
  • Mood
  • Physical

Watch our videos showing exercises that can be carried out lying or sitting.  This will help you to find the ideal method for you depending on your current fitness level and how you feel on the day.

What happens if you don’t do any exercise or activity?

If you do less exercise or activity, you will become deconditioned.  Your muscles weaken and lose bulk, including the muscles you need for breathing and the large muscles in your body.

If you continue to be inactive symptoms such as breathlessness will increase, you will feel worse, need more help and eventually even simple daily tasks will be difficult.

You can prevent this by staying as active as possible.

The Inactivity Cycle

The less you do the less you will be able to do.

Being physically inactive will lead to your body becoming deconditioned or unfit.  This will make your symptoms worse.

This cycle can be avoided or broken by slowly and gradually increasing your activity levels.

This will make you fitter and increase your confidence.  This will also help you continue to be more physically active.

What represents Physical Activity or Exercise?

What Physical Activity or Exercise means to you will vary from person to person.

It can depend on many things such as:

  • The types of activities you normally do.
  • Your hobbies and interests.
  • How fit you have been before.
  • How you are currently feeling.
Physical Activity Exercise

Physical activity is a general term used to describe movement of the body that uses energy.  It can include activities that are part of your day-to-day routine.  For example:

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Hanging out washing
  • Doing the shopping
  • Playing with your children or grandchildren
  • Hoovering
  • Gardening (pictured above)

Exercise is a more vigorous physical activity.  It is more structured to achieve specific improvements in strength and/or fitness.  For example:

  • Circuit class
  • Brisk walking
  • Aerobics class
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Tai Chi (pictured above)
  • Yoga

Here are some videos that include different types of exercise:

Seated exercise

Exercise lying down

Tai Chi

Seated Yoga

Am I doing enough?

How much physical activity and exercise is enough will vary from person to person.

Guidelines for the general population advise 30 minutes each day over 5 days.  This could be broken down into 10- or 15-minute sessions.

If your symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue and / or pain you may need to adapt this or work within your own limits. 

Use these links to access information about fatigue and breathlessness:

Living well with fatigue

Living well with breathlessness

If you are unsure or concerned about activity and exercise, but want to do more, it might help to talk to your Mountbatten Nurse about a referral to a physiotherapist, who will be able to help you with an exercise program tailored to your needs to help you build muscle strength safely.

Simple ways to be more physically active:

  • Tap your toes, heels and fingers whilst watching the TV or listening to the radio.
  • Stand up during advert breaks or take a short walk.
  • Change your habits – Get up to change the TV channel instead of using the remote.
  • March on the spot whilst the kettle boils (seated or standing).
  • Try to do day to day activities with more ‘gusto’. Put some music on and move more!
  • Get off a bus stop earlier so you walk a little further.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator if you’re able.

Do’s and Don’t

Do Don't
DO ensure you carry any inhalers and sprays with you when you exercise and use as advised by your health care professional.

DON’T exercise if you are experiencing new or more severe symptoms than usual.  If your symptoms don’t settle speak to your doctor or relevant health care professional.

DO always warm up.  Begin with some gentle movements to warm up your muscles and prepare your body for exercise. DON’T give up on exercise.  Build up gradually and keep a regular routine of rest and exercise.

DO work at your own level.

DON’T let the weather put you off.  There are plenty of activities and exercises you can do indoors.

DO expect some of these symptoms when exercising at a moderate level – they are normal:

  • Your heart will beat a bit faster
  • You will breathe more quickly and deeply but you should still be able to manage short sentences
  • You will feel warmer
  • You will sweat more
DO finish with a cool down.  Perform gentle movements and stretches. DON’T overdo it on your better days.  Try to keep a balance and pace your exercise and activity. 
DO expect to be tired afterwards.  this is normal after exercise, and you will need to allow time to rest and recover. DON’T be disappointed if you don’t achieve everything you aimed to do.  Even a little bit of gentle exercise can make a difference.