Healthy Diet Plan: how to get more active

May 18, 2024
Healthy Diet Plan: how to get more active

Staying active is key to good health, with the NHS advising us to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or brisk walking, each week, plus strength exercises on two or more days each week.

Of course, not everyone can or wants to become an elite athlete, but the benefits of even moderate physical activity, as the NHS advises, are clear. Research shows that regular exercise can lower the risk of developing many long-term conditions, as well as boosting mental well-being, quality of sleep and energy levels.

Our latest Healthy Diet Plan includes recipes with a brilliant balance of protein and carbohydrates to give you the energy for a workout, and help you refuel after a session. If you haven’t already, sign up today to receive free online access to the plan.

It’s always worth visiting your GP if you have any underlying health conditions that might affect your ability to exercise safely.

You’ll find lots more bonus content from our experts which is designed to help you feel your best. Find out how to cut back on sugar, improve your digestion and support your immunity.

Five tips to increase your activity levels

1. Find an exercise you enjoy

If your aim is to increase the amount of exercise you do, it’s a good idea to choose an activity you really enjoy. The more you enjoy what you’re doing, the more likely you are to stick with it in the long term. Walking, running or cycling outdoors in your local area can be a great way to get some fresh air while you work out. Online yoga, pilates or dance classes are ideal activities for increasing flexibility and getting your heart rate up. A good tip is to exercise with a friend – it’s a wonderful way to stay on track and have more fun. Arrange a walking coffee date or meet a friend to try a new exercise class – you’re much more likely to stick to it as you won’t want to let someone down!

Read how much exercise should you do each day and get more tips on how to exercise for free.

2. Protein and carbs are key

In order to aid recovery, base your post-exercise meal on starchy carbs and lean sources of protein. This combination helps replenish fuel stores and aids muscle repair. Ensuring you recover adequately from exercise is a great way to advance your progress as our muscles need fuel to recover and grow – which helps to encourage ongoing exercise. So, refuelling correctly is a sure-fire way to boost your overall activity levels.

Sign up to our free Healthy Diet Plan to get nutritionally balanced recipes, like these poached eggs with broccoli, tomatoes & wholemeal flatbreads, that deliver a hit of protein and carbs.

3. Eat carbs within 30-60 minutes of exercise


Your muscles are most receptive in the 30-60 minute window following exercise, so eat some carbs in this time frame if you can. If that’s not possible, have a snack or a drink that supplies carbs with some protein, such as a glass of milk. Remember to drink plenty of hydrating fluids and if your exercise is physically strenuous, include some sodium to replace any lost through perspiration. Our creamy mushroom & spinach penne is quick to make, low in calories and vegan.

Find out more about what to eat if you exercise in the morning and evening.

4. Eat right on rest days

Eating the right foods before and immediately after a workout are crucial for building muscle and boosting fitness. You should also be eating the correct balance of nutrients on the days you don’t work out. Including polyunsaturated fats, like avocado and olive oil, in your diet will help to reduce inflammation and aid recovery. Add vegetables to your meals (especially those high in antioxidants) to reduce the ‘free radical’ damage from the previous day’s training – this may also help to reduce muscle soreness.

Discover the 20 healthiest vegetables to add to your plate.

5. Know your goals

It’s easier to stick to an exercise regime if you know why you’re doing it. You might find it helpful to set a realistic goal and write it down so you can keep coming back to it – this will motivate you to keep moving even on lazy days. Your goal could be a distance you’re determined to run, walk or cycle, or a healthy weight you’d like to reach.

Find out how many steps it takes to lose weight, the best exercises for burning fat and how many calories you’ll burn during a workout.

Find out more about our latest Healthy Diet Plan.

Enjoyed this? Get more health tips:

What to eat for a workout
How to work out at home
The best fitness trackers
What is diabetes

All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. Any Healthy Diet Plan featured by Good Food is provided as a suggestion of a general balanced diet and should not be relied upon to meet specific dietary requirements. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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