Set the right goals for your weight

Are you happy with your shape? Would you feel healthier if you lost some weight? Or gained some? It's important to approach any dietary change sensibly. Begin by understanding your Body Mass Index (BMI), which a doctor uses to gauge whether your weight could be affecting your overall health.

The BMI table here is based on height and weight. It applies to adult men and women, and it's important to realise that it's only a guide. Your unique metabolism (the rate at which your body turns food into energy) can also have an impact on whether or not your weight alone is an indication of health issues, but disease rates are noticeably higher in people who have a BMI index of 25 and above. If your BMI measure is below this then that's considered as being healthy. It's a good idea to talk to your GP about ways to improve your BMI index.

Stay active

As you get older, it's important to stay active. This doesn't mean you have to join a gym; there are lots of activities available such as swimming, Pilates or Tai Chi.

Easy steps to fitness

One of the easiest ways to take exercise is to start regularly walking a little further every day. It's a gentle way to lose pounds and keep your heart – and whole body – in shape. Make a proper plan with some pleasant routes – and incentives perhaps, such as meeting up with friends – so you'll stay motivated.

If you're unfit, you may need to build up your fitness levels. Brisk walking is proven to be most beneficial and you may be able to fit in some moderate inclines for an increased cardiovascular workout. But whatever form of cardiovascular activity suits you, try to do at least 20 minutes three times a week. If you experience any pain or symptoms such as breathlessness, always seek medical advice before continuing with exercise.

If you'd like more tips to ease yourself into exercise then read our First Step to Fitness guide.

The next steps to greater fitness

If you're an Aviva Health customer, we offer generous discounts to gym and fitness centres nationwide as part of our Get Active programme. Local fitness centres will have a range of activities on offer – if you want to check out what's available, your local newspaper, leisure centre or library is a good place to start. Apart from the health benefits, you may find you develop new friendships. Don't be put off by the idea a gym will be full of younger, fitter people than yourself. Staff will make you more than welcome.

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