Getting active

Teenager with a football getting active

You might find that you spend a lot of time watching TV – many young people do.

It’s the same with playing computer games and browsing the internet. This might be how you like to spend your leisure time. But while it’s fine to do these things and spend time relaxing once in a while, the problem is you’re not being active.

This general health advice from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains why it's important to take part in physical activity.

Why exercise? 

If you’re inactive as a young person, you’re more likely to be inactive as an adult. This puts you at risk of developing life-threatening conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Research also shows that regular physical activity can boost our self esteem, mood and sleep quality, making us less prone to stress, depression and, in the longer term, dementia. In short, doing regular exercise is good for our bodies and minds.

How much exercise?

Health experts recommend you do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day – do more than this if you can and want to.

Moderate-intensity activity 

Things like:

  • bike riding
  • briskly walking the dog
  • playing frisbee in the park  
  • martial arts 
Anything that means you’re working hard enough to raise your heart rate – so you breathe harder and begin to sweat – but are still able to talk.

High-intensity and resistance exercise

It’s recommended that you do higher intensity and resistance activities three days a week because these will help strengthen your muscles and bones.

Things like:

  • gymnastics
  • tennis
  • skipping
  • sit ups and push ups 
It’s important to find an activity you enjoy so you don’t find it boring – it means you’ll be more likely to stick at it. Why not join a sports team or exercise with family or friends?

Protect yourself

Whatever exercise you choose, you’ll need to use the right protective equipment – including footwear. This is to reduce your risk of injury.

Consider any medical conditions that might affect your ability or safety while exercising and ask your GOSH consultant for advice if you’re not sure.

If you decide to use weights as part of your resistance training, make sure you’re supervised by a trained adult. This is so you use the right equipment and to avoid injuries to your growing muscles and joints.