"If physical activity were a drug, we would refer to it as a miracle cure, due to the great many illnesses it can prevent and help treat." (UK Chief Medical Officer 2019).
Regular physical activity can help to prevent some and manage many common chronic conditions and diseases such as some cancers, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease including CHD and stroke, hypertension, COPD, osteoarthritis, and lower back pain.
Becoming more active if you have a long-term condition can be daunting. In most instances people want to keep more active but perceive their symptoms as a barrier to exercise, with physical activity commonly seen as "not for people like me".
On this page we've put together some key guidance and stats on how physical activity can help you manage specific health conditions and enable your independence.
Benefits of regular physical
Regular physical activity provides a range of physical, mental and social benefits, including:
- Reducing the risk of many long-term conditions
- Helping manage existing conditions
- Reducing inequalities for people with long-term conditions
- Developing and maintaining physical and mental function and independence
- Supporting social inclusion.
What do the national guidelines say on physical activity?
The UK Chief Medical Officers Physical Activity Guidelines (2019) say:
- Be active - at least 150 minutes moderate intensity per week or at least 75 minutes vigorous intensity per week (or a combination of both)
- Build strength - on at least 2 days per week, to keep muscles, bones and joints strong
- Improve balance - 2 days per week to reduce the chance of frailty and falls
- Minimise sedentary time by breaking up periods of inactivity.
What are the key stats?
Regular physical activity can reduce the following health risks:
- 40% lower risk of cognitive decline
- 35% lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- 33% lower risk of hypertension
- 48% lower risk of depression
- 66% lower risk of bone fracture
- 20% lower risk of breast cancer
- 25% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- 19% lower risk of colorectal cancer.
Be Well schemes for specific conditions
Other resources and support