Moderate aerobic activity (cardio)
Moderate activity is anything that gets your heart beating faster. It makes you feel slightly out of breath and a bit warmer. You might also hear the name ‘cardio’ for this type of physical activity.
Aim to do 150 minutes (2½ hours) a week. You can break that down however you like, for example doing 30 minutes on 5 days of the week. If that’s a bit much, try doing 10 minute chunks.
Remember that it’s best to build up slowly and not push yourself too hard or for too long at first. Even if you don’t reach the goal amount, doing some activity is much better for your health than not doing any.
Examples of moderate aerobic activity include:
- brisk walking
- riding a bike
- pushing a lawn mower
- water aerobics
You can turn most types of moderate activity into vigorous activity by working harder. It makes you breathe hard and fast, so you can’t say more than a few words at a time. If you aren’t active at all, it’s best to work up to vigorous activity over time.
Because you are working harder, you don’t need to do as much vigorous activity to meet the weekly cardio goal. 75 minutes of vigorous activity counts the same as 150 minutes of moderate activity. Or you can do a bit of both – for example 1 hour (60 minutes) of moderate activity and 45 minutes of vigorous activity each week.
You don’t need to do vigorous activity to meet the weekly physical activity goals, unless you want to. It includes lots of popular sports such as:
- aerobics classes
- team sports such as football
Very vigorous activities are exercises you do in short, intense bursts. This is also called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and includes specially designed HIIT workouts or circuit classes, as well as things like running up stairs, spin classes and lifting heavy weights.
Do strengthening exercises that work all your major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on 2 days a week. Do these exercises to the point where you need a short rest before you could do them again.
There are lots of ways to do strengthening activities – at home or in the gym. If you are just getting started try seated exercises using a strong, stable chair that does not have wheels.
Examples of strengthening exercises include:
- yoga, pilates or tai chi
- exercises with weights or a resistance band
- exercises like push-ups or squats
- heavy gardening such as digging
Getting started with physical activity
Top tips for making moving a habit
It helps to make being physically active part of your daily routine. That way it becomes automatic and you don’t have to remember to do it.
Try these hacks and tricks to build movement into your day:
- Walk or cycle for local trips instead of using the car of public transport.
- Make walking a bigger part of regular journeys like your commute by getting on a stop later or off a stop earlier.
- Get you friends and family involved, you can help each other stick to your plans and meet your goals.
- Don’t forget your kit! Pack your bag the night before and leave it by the front door, ready to go.
Where can I get ideas, information and instructions for doing different exercises?
For simple ideas to get started with cardio and strengthening activities, download our advice sheet Being more active and NAFLD – getting started.
Your doctor might be able to refer you to local services such as walking groups. They can give you personalised advice that takes account of your situation and any medical conditions or symptoms.
Try looking on your council website or keep an eye out for posters in your local community centre or library.
There is also lots of good information and advice available online, including step-by-step instructions and recorded classes you can follow.
- For inspiration on getting active for people living with a health condition, visit the We Are Undefeatable website.
- Get free ideas and step-by-step instructions for simple activities to do at home from the NHS Better Health website.
- If you’d like to start running, try the free NHS Couch to 5k programme. It builds up slowly over 9 weeks.