- Physical activity ranges from competitive sport and exercise, to everyday activities such as walking and housework.
- Any movement that makes you feel warm and slightly out of breath is classed as physical activity.
Activity and exercise are part of a healthy lifestyle. If you incorporate regular exercise into your everyday life, research shows you will lead a healthier and happier life.
Benefits of increased physical activity:
- encourages healthy growth and development in childhood
- helps maintain a healthy weight
- keeps your heart healthy by reducing blood pressure, and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke
- increases your cardiovascular fitness so you are less breathless on exertion
- strengthens bones and muscles and reduces the risk of osteoporosis
- can help to prevent Type 2 diabetes and some cancers, including breast and colon cancer
- relieves stress
- makes you feel happier and more energised.
Recommended amount of physical activity
It’s recommended that all adults do at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week.
A simpler way of looking at it is to aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, five times a week. The 30 minutes of physical activity does not have to be done all in one go. If you prefer, it could be made up of three ten minute bursts spread throughout the day.
The activity can be anything that gets you slightly out of breath and raises your heart rate. If you feel warm and slightly out of breath when you take part in an activity, this means your heart has to work slightly harder and this will improve your cardiovascular fitness.
Check with your GP before you start any new type of exercise regime and then build up slowly. The best way to make sure you keep active in the long term is to include activity in your daily life and try to find something you enjoy.
How to increase your everyday activity
- Gardening – weeding, digging, mowing the lawn.
- Using the stairs instead of the lift.
- Getting off the bus a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way.
- Household chores – cleaning windows, vacuuming cleaning, dusting.
- Brisk walking.
- Playing with your children in the park.
- Parking at the furthest end of a car park and walking the extra way.
- Manual tasks such as DIY.
Walking is a great way to get out and about, either on your own or walking the dog, and can be a good opportunity to meet up with friends and family. You can also explore and learn more about your local area.
If you fancy walking a dog but don’t have one, why not volunteer at the local dog rescue centre as a dog walker?
Live in a city? Don’t let this stop you; there are lots of interesting walks in urban areas and who knows you may discover some local hidden gems – a café serving gluten-free could be lurking just around the corner! A wide range of walking routes and maps can be found on the Ramblers website.
Go further and discover the National Cycle Network – around 12,600 miles of cycling and walking routes in the UK.
Cycling to work, college or school is an easy way to incorporate activity into your day, saving money and also helping the environment.
Children and young people
Once they are walking, children under five years old should be active for at least three hours a day, taking part in activities like walking, skipping, running or playing on climbing frames. For children over five years old and young people, the aim is to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
Eating a well-balanced, varied gluten-free diet, which includes a wide range of foods, will make sure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need to perform well at whichever sport you choose.
If you are training for a sporting event, adequate nutrition is essential.
Carbohydrates are the most important sources of fuel for sporting activities and the timing and type of carbohydrate consumed is essential – 60% of energy should come from carbohydrates. If you train on a regular basis, you need to make sure that you eat enough carbohydrates to avoid fatigue and reduced performance.
Good sources of gluten-free carbohydrates for basing meals on are:
- gluten-free bread*
- gluten-free pasta*
- rice and rice noodles
- pulses (peas, beans, lentils)
Eating before exercise
Eating the right amounts and types of food before undertaking exercise or a sporting event is essential to make sure your body has enough energy and can perform well.
A meal should be eaten two to three hours before training and should be consumed with a drink. Examples of good pre exercise meals include:
- gluten-free porridge* and a banana
- gluten-free cereal* with gluten-free toast* and jam
- gluten-free pasta* with a tomato-based sauce with meat, fish or beans
- baked potato with cheese, tuna or beans
- rice with chicken or salmon and vegetables
- meat, vegetables and potato.
Around an hour before training/undertaking exercise you should have a pre exercise snack with a drink, for example:
- yoghurt with fresh fruit
- fruit and milk or a fruit and yoghurt smoothie
- gluten-free cereal bar*
- a handful of gluten-free breakfast cereal*
- rice cakes*
- gluten-free crackers*.
During exercise you lose fluid through sweating as your body tries to prevent a sudden increase in body temperature. How much fluid you need and when depends on you and your training plan, so you should use your training sessions to practice drinking during exercise.
It’s important to make sure you are well hydrated before exercising. If you’re dehydrated when exercising, you may not perform as well as you could. Always take a full bottle of fluids to training and make sure that you drink often and that you continue rehydrating after training.
Post event refuelling
After doing exercise, your body muscle glycogen levels will be depleted and so need to be replenished with foods high in carbohydrate. Refuelling post exercise is essential to reduce fatigue and enhance your future performance. It should begin as soon as possible after exercise.
Good recovery snacks can include:
- fresh fruit
- fruit yoghurt*
- gluten-free cereal bars*
- gluten-free toast* with baked beans*
- gluten-free tuna salad sandwich*.
A lot of sports drinks do not contain gluten, but do check the ingredients on any cloudy or powdered drinks as they could use wheat or barley in the ingredients.
You can also make your own sports drinks and there are plenty of recipes you can find. This is not only cheaper but also you can choose your own flavour to make.
Advice for athletes
If you are training to a high level and have coeliac disease, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a dietitian who specialises in sports nutrition who can help you to fit your training around a healthy, balanced gluten-free diet.
*Please check the Food and Drink Directory for suitable products.