A man with Type 2 Diabetes dancing

Being active with a health condition

Being active with a health condition will feel easier some days than others. Start small. Make the most of your good days. And build it up from there.

Small increases in physical activity can have a big impact on your health and wellbeing. And it’s never too late to start moving more.

There is no situation, there is no age and no condition where exercise is not a good thing.

Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer

What physical activity should I be doing?

The simple answer is whatever works for you and your health condition. Everyone is different so it might take some trial and error to work out what suits you. But we’ve collated some resources and frequently asked questions to help you get started.

Your questions answered

What counts as physical activity?

Physical activity is anything that gets you moving and using energy. This might include walking to the shops or doing housework, as well as activities such as swimming or cycling. So every movement matters. Just taking a few more steps every day can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.

How much physical activity should I be doing?

Health professionals recommend that adults do 150 minutes of physical activity per week. This should be at a level that raises our heart beat, makes us breathe faster and makes us feel warmer. 150 minutes per week is the equivalent to around 21 minutes per day. If this is much more than you are doing, don’t worry. Start small and build up slowly.

Will it make my condition worse?

In a recent government briefing, England’s Chief Medical Officer said: “There is no situation, there is no age and no condition where exercise is not a good thing.”

Physical activity can have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. Some people even find it improves their symptoms. The important thing is to start slowly and give your body time to adjust to moving more. If you are worried about managing symptoms or increasing pain then have a chat with your GP or support group.

We’ve also included stories from local people on this page so you can see how physical activity has affected them.

What if I can't keep up?

This can be a worry for anyone who is starting to increase their physical activity levels. You’re likely to find others with similar concerns. Look out for sessions that are described as suitable for beginners or all abilities.

If you’re worried, try to chat to the instructor or coach beforehand. It gives you a chance to check the level of the club or class and who else goes along. Let them know about your health condition. And if you think you might need to rest at times then mention it at the start so you both know it’s okay.

Some people find it helps their confidence to start doing a little more walking or something on their own before joining a group activity. There are online activities on this page or you could try an app like Active 10 from our Fitness apps page.

Find local activities

We’re working with activity providers to list as many inclusive local sessions as possible in one place. Get Active Hampshire and Get Active Isle of Wight feature all kinds of activities. You can search by postcode, browse a map or search for a specific activity. Many of the sessions are designed to support people of all ages and abilities.

COVID-19 has disrupted activity sessions. For now, Get Active is only displaying online sessions.

Get Active Hampshire

Search fitness classes, group activities and sports sessions across Hampshire.

Visit site

Get Active Isle of Wight

Search fitness classes, group activities and sports sessions on the Isle of Wight.

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Walking for Health

Walking for Health is a great initiative for those who want to enjoy the social side of being active. We are lucky to have 13 schemes operating in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The walks are short and over easy terrain. They are open to everyone. But, they are specifically aimed at those who are not very active. Find your nearest walks on the Walking for Health website.

Local stories

Exercise, Anxiety and Personal Identity

How physical activity helped Kate overcome difficult hurdles.

Fitness with Fibro

Sophie tells us how doing the Couch to 5k has changed her life.

How exercise helped my mental health

Georgia shares how being active helps manager her mental health.

Condition-specific exercises and support

There are a growing number of resources online to support being active with a health condition. These include exercise videos, tips and advice, and sheets that you can print and use at home. Take a look at the relevant links below.

General and condition-specific resources

General and specific support for various health conditions

The NHS Fitness Studio contains 24 instructor-led videos that you can do at home. The videos cover beginner-level aerobic exercise, strength and resistance, Pilates and yoga. They include chair-based exercises and specific videos for people living with back pain, knee problems, Arthritis, Scoliosis, Osteoporosis, MS and Fibromyalgia.

The We Are Undefeatable website is packed full of stories, blog posts and videos of people with long-term health conditions talking about being active. The site also provides practical guidance and support from 15 of the major health charities in the UK. We particularly like the Daily Undefeatable check in, which helps you to keep track of how physical activity makes you feel.

Moving Medicine offers simple patient information to guide you through being active with different health conditions. Select your age group and health condition to access relevant tips and advice.

Alzheimer's

The Alzheimer’s Society provides practical advice and support for being active at different stages of dementia.

Arthritis

Versus Arthritis offers practical advice and exercises to help manage pain.

Asthma and lung conditions

Asthma UK offers practical advice and guidance on being active with Asthma.

The British Lung Foundation provides a set of videos that give you everything you need to start exercising. The videos include step-by-step aerobic and strength exercises.

Back pain

NHS Low Back Pain Exercises can be done at home to help ease lower back pain. There is also a Pilates workout video.

Cancer

Macmillan provides practical information on being active before, during and following cancer treatment.

Chair-based exercises for all abilities

The Body Coach TV offers a 10-minute workout routine, which keeps movement gentle with the support of a chair.

iCareiMove features free chair-based exercise videos.

NHS Sitting exercises are gentle and easy to follow exercises to help improve your mobility.

Diabetes

Diabetes UK details the benefits of physical activity for diabetes. It also offers advice on the best forms of exercise and being active with diabetes complications.

Heart conditions

The NHS Cardiac rehabilitation exercise sheet includes tips on exercising, as well as a warm up and cool down routines.

The British Heart Foundation 10 minute workout is a video workout you can do in your living room, led by a physical activity specialist.

The British Heart Foundation Chair Based Exercises  are simple exercises that you can do while seated.

Mental illness

Rethink Mental Illness provides practical information about being active and mental health.

Mind offers advice for getting active as well as initiatives you can take part in, such as RED January.

NHS Every Mind Matters offers practical tools and support to help you manage your mental wellbeing.

MS and Fibromyalgia

NHS Fitness Studio, MS and Fibromyalgia Pilates is a 30-minute exercise video for people with these and other conditions.

The MS Society  provides exercises suitable for those with MS, including simple chair exercises and more active workouts.

Preventing falls

Everyone is more at risk of a fall as they age.

Get up and Go provides simple guidance on all things falls related.

Stay Active at Home includes a short video and 6 simple exercises to help strengthen your muscles and improve your wellbeing.

NHS Strength provides a handy booklet of strength exercises that you can do with a chair.

NHS Strength and Balance guides you through different levels to improve your strength and balance.

Stroke

Stroke Association gives details of the benefits of moving more after a stroke. And it offers practical exercises to build movement into your everyday routine.

Get in touch

More ways to be active

Person looking at fitness app

Fitness apps and technology

Using apps and technology can help motivate us to move more.

Women getting active at home together

Getting active at home

Your home. Your rules. Get active at home however you choose.

We Are Undefeatable campaign logo and man with surgery scar

We Are Undefeatable

Supporting people with long-term health conditions to be active.

The legal bit

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