12 easy ways to start moving more this National Fitness Day

Enjoy the health benefits of getting more active with our top tips for National Fitness Day.

It’s National Fitness Day on September 20th,and there’s no better day to get moving. As we age, it’s more important than ever to keep active. You don’t need to be tackling ultra marathons or hiking in mountains (although if you want to, we’re cheering you on), but aiming to get more movement into everyday life can bring huge benefits.  

Regular physical activity can help us live longer and protects against many health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dementia. It also helps prevent many bone and joint disorders that can otherwise become more prevalent in older people, such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis. 

Lady curling weightsCredit: Shutterstock / BongkarnGraphic

The Government advises that older adults (those aged 65 or over) should take part in daily physical activity to maintain ‘good physical and mental health, wellbeing, and social functioning’. Some activity, however small, brings health benefits compared to remaining sedentary, and the more you do, the greater those benefits are.  

The loss of strength in our muscles is one of the biggest contributors to loss of independence. That’s why it’s important to do some form of exercise that improves strength, flexibility and balance on at least two days per week. This can take many forms, such as:  

  • Using dumbbells  
  • Using resistance bands  
  • Taking part in a group fitness class that uses weights, such as kettlebells or BodyPump 
  • Performing bodyweight exercises. 

It is recommended that adults, whatever their age, do at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate physical activity per week, (building up from current levels if you don’t do this much at the moment). This can be made up however you like – in short bursts, like cleaning the bathroom, or longer bouts, such as taking a bike ride. Those who are already active can achieve the same health benefits with 75 minutes of vigorous activity, like running, or a combination of both.  

Sport England reports that activity levels decrease with age: 62% of those aged 55-74 are regularly active, but this falls to just 41% at 75 years plus. However, the good news is that this figure is growing. Over the past six years, we’ve seen 1.3 million more people age 55-74 regularly hitting their 150 minutes’ worth of activity per week, and half a million more aged 75 plus.  

At Saga Exceptional we are passionate about positive ageing and enjoying the benefits of exercise. You might think it’s too late to get started, or maybe you used to be more active than you are currently. But it’s not too late, and you are not too old. It’s not about forcing your body to do more than it’s capable of doing, and it’s definitely not about punishing yourself for something you ate. Getting more active is about maintaining independence, managing symptoms of health conditions, and improving overall wellbeing.  


12 ways to get more active

The key is to start slowly. I always tell clients to meet yourself where youre at. You need to shut out the noise and focus on you. It doesnt matter what your friend, neighbour or significant other does to keep active (unless you want to join them, of course). All that matters is making the effort to do something, however small, every day. Our suggestions below cover a range of activity and ability levels, so take your pick.  

If you have any pre-existing health conditions or injuries, be sure to consult your GP before embarking on a new exercise regime. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line – just click on the email symbol under my profile below. 

Stand up and sit down

Yes, it really can be as simple as that. Every time we stand up and sit down, we’re doing a squat. And squats have many benefits – they strengthen the leg muscles, and keep the knee and hip joints flexible, and the up and down motion of the body increases oxygen to the brain – something that usually decreases with age.  

Why not try: When you need to stand up, why not sit down again and then stand up, for double squats action. 

Use the ad breaks wisely

Most of us don’t watch adverts for entertainment – we’re just waiting for our programme to come back on. But every ad break is around three to five minutes, giving you the perfect opportunity to move about, walk up and down the stairs, or do some chair squats (see above).  

Why not try: Marching on the spot for 60 seconds every time the ads come on.  

Stretch while the kettle boils

Flexibility becomes even more important as we age, because it’s what keeps us moving well. You can increase both flexibility and mobility with some gentle stretching, and waiting for the kettle to boil is an ideal time to move about a bit. Reach up high, bend at the hips and drive the hands towards the toes, or try standing on one leg and letting the other one come up behind you (hold onto a worktop or table while doing this).  

Why not try: Our 12 stretches to increase flexibility  


Set a step goal

There are plenty of devices on the market that will count your daily steps, from fitness trackers or smart watches, to a basic step counter. Our fitness technology writer, Steven Shaw, recommends the Fitbit Charge 5 as the best overall tracker, or the Honor Band 7 if you’re on a budget.  

Research has shown that if you’re over 60, then just 6,000 steps a day will reduce your risk of death by up to 42%. It’s easy to get to this number too – just focus on moving a little more each day, such as walking to the local shops, walking from the lounge to the kitchen (use those ad breaks wisely!), or mowing the lawn.  

Why not try: Making your step goal part of a fun weekly challenge with family or friends.  

Take a 20 minute walk

Getting outside can boost mental wellbeing, and a 20 minute walk can bring enormous health benefits too. Start at a pace that is right for you and build from there. Aim for a brisk walk, covering about a mile in your 20 minutes. Not only will you add 2,000-3,000 steps to your daily count, but your walk will also boost brain health, help lower blood pressure, aid better sleep, and increase life expectancy.  

Why not try: Varying the terrain of your walk. Try adding in hills, woodland trails, or even beach walks if you can.  

Try Jeffing

Running is a great form of exercise, but for some people a continuous run isn’t achievable. Maybe you’re out of condition, or maybe your joints aren’t up to the repeated impact. If that’s the case, then Jeffing might be for you. Named after its creator, Jeff Galloway, Jeffing is simply alternating between walking and running at intervals that work for you.  

Why not try: Take a look at how the Jeffing technique can make running easier and try short running intervals to start. 

Discover the benefits of strength training

Using some form of weight or resistance – even your own bodyweight – will rapidly improve your day-to-day mobility and function. Strength training increases bone density, something that depletes as we age. Other benefits of strength training include improved body awareness, making falls less likely. And if you do fall, it reduces the instances of fractures.  

We love these resistance bands from Amazon. They’re inexpensive, easy to store, and can be used for a range of exercises. They’re also great for aiding stretching. 

Featured product

Amazon Basics TPE Resistance Band, 3 Piece Set

RRP: £8.97

Amazon Basics TPE Resistance Band, 3 Piece Set

Why not try: Using resistance bands in this seated workout.

Head to the pool

Swimming is a great form of cardio exercise, and it has the added bonus of being low impact. It’s perfect for anyone who has joint issues as the water takes away the impact felt during other forms of exercise. It also aids mental wellbeing and is a great stress reliever. Go at your own pace and take time to acclimatise to the water if needed. Even walking through the water offers resistance for the body to work against and is a way of exercising.  

Why not try: Good Boost offer many water wellbeing programmes online. Participating leisure centres across the UK then give you a waterproof tablet to take poolside with you so you can do the programme. Look at their website to see the full list of venues.

Work out at home

If youre not keen on exercising in public, then exercising at home might be for you. YouTube has thousands of free workouts, and most need no or minimal equipment. You might like to invest in a set of dumbbells, like the ones listed below, or the aforementioned resistance bands. You can follow along with a workout or make up your own.  

Featured product

SONGMICS Hex Dumbbells Set with Stand

RRP: £39.99

SONGMICS Hex Dumbbells Set with Stand

Clean the house

Can cleaning really cut the risk of cancer? A recent study suggests that daily activities, such as cleaning, or carrying the shopping, done in short, vigorous bursts, can result in lower risks of certain cancers. Of course, as well as that, there are other added health benefits. Vigorous cleaning will raise the heart rate, meaning you’ll be gaining all the benefits of cardio exercise too.  

Why not try: Breaking the cleaning up into short, energetic bursts spread throughout the day or week.  

Dig the garden

Another form of exercise we don’t often think about is gardening. Digging, lifting, carrying, using a wheelbarrow – they’re all energetic activities that increase strength, mobility, and health. What’s more, gardening is free. If you don’t have your own garden, you could look into allotments in your local area, join a horticultural society, or volunteer for local projects.  

Why not try: A 30 minute gardening workout. How to get fit with just 30 minutes of gardening shows you how.  

Buddy up

Being active and social is good for your health, increasing brain activity and lowering the risk of many age-associated diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Finding an activity to do with a friend can not only increase enjoyment of exercise but also adherence – you’re more likely to get out the door for a walk if you know your friend is waiting for you.  

Why not try: Joining a group fitness class with a friend. Many gyms also have cafes attached where you can chat after class.  

Becky Fuller

Written by Becky Fuller she/her


Becky Fuller is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, specialising in strength and conditioning for over 50s. Becky is passionate about Kettlebell training, and runs a regular kettlebell club in the local community. Prior to this, she worked as a Fitness manager in a local gym. Becky’s focus is helping people to become stronger both in body and mind, and to move well without pain.

Becky also has many years’ experience working as a freelance journalist, writing for a wide variety of publications such as Screen Rant, Geek Feed, and Daily Actor. She also regularly reviews theatre productions for UKTW.

Away from work, Becky unsurprisingly enjoys exercise, with a focus on lifting weights, kettlebells, and Olympic rings. She loves watching theatre, swimming, and reading a good book. She has three teenage children and enjoys spending time with them, preferably on a Cornish beach.

  • twitter
  • instagram