Our physical activity experts have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge at their very active finger tips and have answered some common questions they get asked.

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Question: What has the biggest impact on your health?

Answer: Being active!

Researchers, scientists, health professionals and sports enthusiasts know that being active on a regular basis ( 30 mins on at least 5 days a week) can lead us to healthier and even happier lives.

Why get active?

The health benefits of physical activity are numerous and extend well beyond weight management. Yet, many people in Ireland do not exercise on a regular basis.

Here are five quick facts about being more active:

  1. It gives you energy. Endorphins are released into your bloodstream during activity, you feel much more energised.
  2. It helps you feel happier, by reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
  3. It improves your sex life by improving your physical and mental wellbeing.
  4. It adds life to years and years to life. Up to half of decline in function thought to be caused by ageing is actually caused by not being active.
  5. It reduces absenteeism by up to 20%. Active workers are healthy workers.

How much physical activity is needed to gain health benefits?

Answer: You need to be active at least 30 minutes at a moderate intensity activity on five days a week, to keep your body and mind healthy.

We would recommend a mixture of physical activity that increases fitness as well as strengthening muscle and bone as this provides the most benefit.

What are the benefits of physical activity? (Adults, older adults and people with disabilities)

Being active will give you more energy, help you relax and it’s fun too. Being more active can also lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and weight gain. Being physically active can reduce your chances of developing one of these diseases by up to 50% as well as reducing the risk of premature death by 20 – 30%.

How much physical activity should I be doing?

For health benefits adults should take part in at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days week (or 150 minutes a week). All children and youths should be active at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day. This should include muscle strengthening, flexibility and bone strengthening exercises 3 times a week.

What kind of physical activity should I be doing?

All activity of at least moderate intensity counts towards your 30 minutes a day, this includes sports, exercises and everyday activities like gardening and walking.

What is moderate-intensity?

Moderate intensity activities make your heart beat a little faster, make you feel a little warmer and make your breath a little heavier, you should still be able to carry out a conversation. A brisk walk would be a moderate intensity activity for most people.

 What is vigorous-intensity?

Vigorous-intensity activity is equivalent to jogging/running, and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate.

Can I do more than the recommended amount of physical activity?

Yes you can, the more activity you do the more benefits you get. 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week is the minimum amount recommended for good health.

What about short bouts of activity?

You don't have to do it all at once. You can build your 30 minutes or more over the day by doing a number of short bouts of activity. The minimum length of these short bouts is 10 minutes.

 What about muscle strengthening activities?

Muscle-strengthening and balance activities are important. A mixture of physical activity that increases fitness as well as strengthening muscle and bone provides the most benefit.

 What type of muscle strengthening and balance activities should I do?

  • Digging, lifting and carrying while gardening
  • Carrying groceries
  • Circuit training
  • Exercises using bands, weight machines, hand held weights
  • Tai chi and yoga
  • Backward and sideways walking and walking on heels and toes
  • Standing from a sitting position
  • Standing on one foot

What if I don’t have time to do physical activity?

It only takes 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity five days per week to improve and maintain your health.

Remember you don't have to do your 30 minutes all at once. Activity can be accumulated over the course of the day: a 10 minute brisk walk, three times a day, or 20 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes later that day.

Is being physically active expensive? It takes equipment, special shoes and clothes,and sometimes you even have to pay to use sports facilities.

Lots of physical activities are free, remember everyday activities like gardening and walking to work all count towards your 30 minutes. Walking is a popular and the safe physical activity and it is absolutely free.

I am getting older should I be doing less activity?

The guidelines are the same for adults and older adults, at least 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days a week. Older people should focus on aerobic activity, muscle strengthening and balance. If chronic illness, lack of mobility or degenerative condition prevent older people from being active they should be as active as they are able to be.

What are the key points described in the Physical Activity Guidelines?

  • Regular physical activity reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and depression.
  • Some physical activity is better than none.
  • The more activity you do the more health benefits you get, try increasing the duration, intensity or frequency of your activity.
  • Most health benefits occur with at least 30 minutes moderate activity five days a week or 150 minutes, such as brisk walking.
  • Bouts of activity that are at least 10 minutes long count toward meeting the Guidelines.
  • Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.
  • Health benefits of physical activity occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older people, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group.
  • Health benefits of physical activity are attainable for people with disabilities.
  • The benefits of physical activity outweigh the risks of injury.

Can you do too much physical activity?

Your body will give you signs if you doing too much physical activity, these might include:

  • chronic fatigue
  • increase in recovery requirements
  • altered resting heart rate
  • muscle soreness and damage