Do you get your 60 a day?

Minutes of exercise, that is. Our question of the month: What do you do to keep healthy?”

All forms of activity improve mental and physical fitness – you don’t have to take part in an organised team sport, or go home sore and exhausted.

A few gentle laps in the pool, a brisk walk in the park, or a Saturday afternoon kicking a ball with mates – you’re using your muscles and improving your fitness, whether you’re aware of it or not. It doesn’t have to be a major deal – just deciding to walk to work or school is a start.

It’s recommended that you get 60 minutes of activity per day. It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes of the same activity, it can be lots of different activities combined. The Take Life On website has a widget that you can use to clock up your 60 minutes.

Body

Most of us are familiar with the health benefits of being active. Research and experience has shown that regular activity is the best way to fight off flab. Even the most punishing diet won’t get you the look you want without exercise. After all, the best bods tend to be lithe and toned, or so the magazines say. But to get that desired muscle tone, you need to get active.

We all have days when we feel drained and listless, with no energy to do anything more than slump in front of the TV. An active lifestyle is a sure-fire way of increasing your energy levels. Then there’s your old ticker. It’s worth giving your heart the best chance of staying healthy, even though your forties might seem like light years away.

The British Heart Foundation reckons that being active halves the risk of developing coronary heart disease – even a bit of mild exercise does the job. It also reduces the risk of having a stroke or developing diabetes, and helps lower your blood pressure. For more info take a look at the Yheart website.

Beyond this, scientists are constantly coming up with new and fascinating facts about the way in which exercise helps us stay healthier.

Mind and soul

Fact: Scientists believe that getting active helps improve mood and beat depression. This is largely due to the release of substances called endorphins during exercise.

Endorphins occur throughout the nervous system, and elevated levels of especially beta-endorphin after exercise give us that feelgood buzz (often called a “runner’s high”) and help lower blood pressure, inhibit pain and suppress appetite.

Goes to show it’s not just the body that benefits from sport, the mind and soul do too. Besides improving mood, sport can be a great confidence-booster – just look at David Beckham. Previously he was painfully shy in front of the cameras, but with his spell as England captain, he adopted a new role, inspiring his teammates on the pitch and young people off the pitch.

You don’t need to be captain of your team; if you’re a tad shy, getting the hang of a new sport and taking part will boost your confidence.

Sport allows you to achieve goals, and not just on the football pitch! From being able to run uninterrupted for 30 minutes to doing 10 sit-ups, or even being crowned man/woman of the match.

Even if you’re not the competitive type, there’s a great sense of achievement in simply feeling fitter and more energetic.

It’s a lifestyle thing

Another bonus is the social side of sport. You’ll meet new people away from your usual crowd and get to visit places, whether it is in Scotland or in Europe.

So really, it’s a lifestyle thing. Get active and you’re likely to notice an improvement in your physical and mental well-being. Plus, you’ll be having loads of fun, so you’ll probably end up a happier person!

Many of you let us know how you keep fit.

Alisa told us “I go swimming and I weigh myself before and after every session. I also measure the amount that I am on the internet – to see if it’s too much.”

Escape Hawick had a chat about this and members told us:

“I eat healthy, do rugby and often play sport at the youth centre each week. I also walk up and down to school and play golf in the summer” – Neil Renwick,13:

“I play hockey and netball” – Ruathy Murray, 12:

“I play rugby seven times a week, swimming five times a week, and play tennis in the summer” – Euan Know

“I ride and feed my pony and play hockey” – Megan Renwick, 12 years old.

“We play rugby all week” – Gareth Welsh and Jae Linton.

“I go to the gym every Sunday but then ruin it by stuffing my face full of sugary goodness!!”– Ruairidh Tait said.