Getting active and living healthier

Older woman exercising at homeMany people have found being active very helpful for their general wellbeing during the pandemic.

It’s shown to boost energy levels, lift your mood and lead to better sleep, all of which helps us to cope with stressful circumstances.

And in the longer term it can also reduce your risk of serious conditions like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Being active can also help reduce the symptoms of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions which affect the joints, bones and muscles including joint and back pain and stiffness.

Whether you have been more active in the past few months, or found it more of a challenge, it remains very important to find ways to keep moving throughout the day.

Walking, running or cycling can make a big difference, but so too can simple activities around the home and garden to keep us active and maintain our strength.

There are many easy ways to get active and live healthier and the NHS and its partners have lots of tools to support you.

Here’s just some of them to help get you started or give you new ideas:

Overall advice

  • Change for life: Discover healthy recipes, nutritional advice and top tips to help your family stay healthy by eating well and moving more.
  • Live Well: Advice, tips and tools to help you make the best choices about your health and wellbeing.
  • One You: Tips, tools, support and encouragement to help improve your health right away including advice on quitting smoking, drinking less, eating better and moving more.
  • Tips to live well for longer: Advice to maintain independence, stay healthy and active at all ages.

Being active

  • Active 10: The free Active 10 walking tracker app shows how much brisk walking you’re doing and how you can do more.
  • Being active with a long-term condition: Advice from The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy on how to incorporate regular activity into your life when you’ve got a long-term health condition.
  • Couch to 5K: A running plan for absolute beginners to help you gradually work up towards running 5K in just 9 weeks.
  • Get Active: Support from Mencap for people with learning disabilities who are interested in taking part in sport and physical activities in their local area.
  • Join the movement: Sport England’s tips, advice and guidance on how to keep or get active in and around your home.
  • Managing your bone, joint and muscle pain: Resources from The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to help you manage conditions including shoulder pain, neck pain and back pain.
  • Online dance classes: Zoom sessions which include all kinds of dancing – street, ballet and jazz aimed at people with a learning disability.
  • Staying active from home: Resources designed by expert physiotherapists to help you keep fit and active at home.
  • This Girl Can: Supporting women to find ways of getting active that’s right for you. Discover activities that fit your needs.
  • We Are Undefeatable: Ideas and resources to support those with long term health conditions to be more active.

Healthy diet and weight

  • Eatwell guide: This guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
  • NHS weight loss plan: This free 12-week diet and exercise plan is designed to help you lose weight safely – and keep it off.

Mental health


  • Alcohol support: Find out the health benefits of reducing your alcohol intake and get tips on cutting down.


  • Quit smoking: Stopping smoking is one of the best things you’ll ever do for your health. Get started with free expert support, stop smoking aids, tools and practical tips.

Extra support for those at risk of Type 2 diabetes

If you are at risk of Type 2 diabetes then you may be eligible for extra support from the Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme. Healthier You is a nine to 12-month programme to support you to make healthy lifestyle changes. The programme is currently being delivered remotely online or through digital apps.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors are:

  • Your age – the older you are, the more at risk you are. However, those from the ethnic groups outlined below are at risk at a younger age.
  • Your family history – you’re two to six times more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with diabetes.
  • Your ethnicity – you’re more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you’re Chinese, South Asian, African-Caribbean or Black-African.
  • Your weight – you’re more at risk if you’re overweight, especially if you’re large around the middle.
  • Your blood pressure – you’re more at risk if you’ve ever had high blood pressure.

Check your risk using the Diabetes UK Know Your Risk tool, and and if you are at risk speak to your GP Practice.

Share your stories and goals

We want you to share your stories and personal commitments about how you are trying to Live Well during the COVID-19 pandemic to inspire and motivate others. That might be  about keeping up with being more active, starting something new or a goal that you have set yourself to achieve.

The easiest way to do that is to share it on social media using #ThankYouTogether and #NHSBirthday.

Click on the links below to read about some people’s stories and experiences. You’ll find lots more in the resources above too: