Routine for everyday exercise

A sustainable routine for everyday exercise

Many of us know that we need more movement and that we spend too much time sitting still. But it can be difficult to keep up with all the recommendations and turn them into a routine that works long term. We’ll give you tips on how you can implement WHO’s recommendations in a sustainable way in your life, and thereby also take care of your intestinal flora!

Why do we need exercise ?

When we exercise, we lower our blood pressure, blood fats and blood sugar. It affects multiple organs such as the heart, lungs, bones and muscles. All of which are strengthened by movement and beneficial stress. This in turn leads to the body producing substances with reparative, pain-relieving, invigorating and anti-inflammatory effects. When we exercise regularly, we also train our immune system. That makes us better equipped against infection and inflammation. 

Movement is good for both body and mind. When we regularly take part in physical activity, we prevent issues including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer – which account for almost three quarters of all deaths in the world. Exercise also helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as helping us with learning and contributing to our general health.


WHO’s recommendations

  • Adults should move at least 150 to 300 minutes per week (meaning you should raise your pulse)
  • Children and young people should exercise for about 60 minutes (moderate physical activity) a day 
  • Exercise includes not only sports, physical training and leisure activities, but also daily movement (walking and cycling) and household chores
  • Strength training benefits all age groups. People over 65 should also add balance and coordination training in addition to strength in order to strengthen their sense of balance
  • Finally, they focus on the dangers of sitting still. It’s not enough to move for 300 minutes and get your pulse up, if you remain sedentary for most of the week. Long periods of sitting still should be broken up with movement. 


Sitting still is harmful even if you follow the recommendations for physical activity 

One common misconception is that if we exercise, we do enough. But the fact is that Swedes sit still on average 60% of their waking hours. When sitting still, our energy consumption does not increase, which means that the metabolism decreases. This negatively affects several functions of the body:

  • When you sit still this much, your muscles weaken, and even the heart, which is a muscle, loses strength
  • When we become sedentary, it also affects the production of cholesterol, fat and glucose, all of which increase the risks of inflammation
  • For the body, being sedentary is about the same as being ill, you lose strength and muscle mass

It’s harmful to be sedentary the rest of the time, even if you’re getting the recommended 300 minutes of movement a week. So even if you’re doing sports several times a week, you need to think about reducing your sedentary time. The latest research shows that even minor activities and movement are enough to reduce the dangers. 


Exercise improves our ability to handle stress

When we feel stressed, the body turns on adrenaline and other stress hormones. It is basically a positive survival instinct, but when the stress remains in the body and does not get an outlet, it turns into a negative instead. Problems with health can then arise when the stress load lasts for a long time and the strain is so great that the body does not recover, even the intestinal bacteria can be affected by this. 

When we move, our blood circulation improves, among other things, which means that we can absorb more oxygen and the body can then manage the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, in a better way. Movement can also prevent mental illness and symptoms such as depression, anxiety and stress. It also helps with our cognitive ability and leads to better sleep. 


Intestinal flora & exercise 

Research shows that the composition and activity of intestinal microbes is also affected by exercise in addition to diet. In the gut there is a universe of bacteria and microbes that interact, compete, and release various substances involved in weight control, inflammation, immune defence, and many other aspects of bodily health.

Exercise can help increase the production of intestinal bacteria that form short-chain fatty acids, which can protect against gastrointestinal diseases and colon cancer. A research report examined a group of sedentary people who were instructed to start exercising, over a period of six weeks. All of the participants saw a large increase in the gut bacteria that increase the production of important fatty acids such as butyric acid. After six weeks, the participants then had to go back to their sedentary lives, at which time it was observed that the participants’ levels of short-chain fatty acids decreased again. 


How do I apply the WHO’s recommendations to my daily life?

To maintain the important functions of the body, you should move roughly every 30 minutes, standing up and walking a few steps could suffice. In addition to this, our bodies also needs proper exercise, at least 30 minutes a day to get short of breath and ideally a bit sweaty. It doesn’t have to be 30 minutes straight, you can brake it into at least 10 minutes at a time – maybe a walk in the morning, one at lunch and one in the evening. The important thing is that you get up and move! 


Routine for everyday exercise

  • Always take the stairs instead of the lift
  • Walk or cycle to work, school, and the supermarket
  • Short on time? Walk part of the way! 
  • Do you often get chained to your desk? Set an alarm every 30 minutes and remind yourself to get up for a bit!
  • Take a detour to get your coffee
  • If you have an adjustable desk, you can alternate between standing and sitting
  • Exercise and talk at the same time 
  • Take a walk with a friend
  • Have walking meetings at work and take all your phone calls standing up
  • Don’t forget housework such as vacuuming, mowing the lawn, raking up leaves and flower beds -these are also everyday exercise!



WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour, 2021


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