Take the first step towards better health, PHA urges

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The Public Health Agency (PHA) is calling on people to quite literally take some simple steps to better health as part of a new campaign.

With three out of five adults in Northern Ireland overweight or obese, the agency’s new campaign is encouraging us to increase the amount of steps we take to improve our health and help manage our weight.

The campaign, part of the Choose to Live Better programme, encourages people to measure how many steps they take, and then set personal goals to increase this number.

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “I am delighted to launch this new campaign which encourages us all to reduce the amount of time we spend being sedentary and to move more. “It may seem like a simple message but overweight and obesity is a growing public health issue, and has a real impact on individuals and on our health system.

“Building physical activity into a daily routine is a practical way to ensure we make it easy to move more and be active, and this will help reduce the risk of getting long-term health conditions such as heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

“By making simple lifestyle changes to include more exercise, such as walking or cycling, we can not only maintain a healthy weight but also improve our mental health by helping prevent depression and maintain positive self-esteem.”

Dr Eddie Rooney, chief executive of the PHA, added: “Maintaining a healthy weight is important for everyone. Overweight and obesity can have a major impact on our health and wellbeing, so we are encouraging people to literally take some simple steps each day to help them keep active and lose weight. If you’re already at your target weight, getting more active will also help you to maintain it.

“You can boost your step count by walking or running, for example, but other activities such as swimming or cycling count too – you can find out about these activities and more on our website www.choosetolivebetter.com. Increase your activity and set goals in a way that works for you and you’ll start to see the benefits.

“By using a pedometer or smartphone to measure the steps we take, we can see what our current step count is and track how we can improve it over time. This can be done by simply building extra activity into our everyday lives, such as going for a walk with the dog, getting off the bus one stop early, or walking instead of driving to the shops. Research has shown that setting yourself a target and using a pedometer to track your progress can significantly increase levels of physical activity.

“Physical activity can also reduce blood pressure and improve mental health.

“Getting more active, and cutting out those little extras that we don’t need to eat, can help us manage our weight and improve our health.”

For information and advicevisit www.choosetolivebetter.com