The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

Any activity is better than none

Gradually increase the amount you do and the effort you put in – walk for five minutes longer each week, say, and up the intensity. Walking at a brisk pace can burn 100 more calories per hour than just strolling. Try these anywhere ideas…

Work exercise into your commute

Walking, running or cycling even a part of the journey will do wonders for your wellbeing, boosting mood as well as shrinking your waistline. Find out if your company participates in the Cycle To Work bike scheme (lending you funds for a tax-free bike), and if they don’t, suggest they join up. Check out An average user burns 8,391 calories a month this way.get active

Leave your desk

Make office life less sedentary – instead of sending internal emails or making calls, walk over to your colleagues and have face-to-face discussions. Volunteer for the morning coffee run, which will get you a dose of fresh air and exercise.

Turn dull chores into a workout

OK, so we’re never going to look forward to doing the housework. But why not kill two birds with one stone? Vacuuming or floor-scrubbing is a lot less tiresome if you stick the radio on and up the pace in time to the music.

Don’t talk yourself out of it

Just remember you’re no different from anyone else – some mornings you’ll wake up and think, ‘I don’t want to exercise.’ But fitness trainers have long been telling us that if we can take the first step and get to the gym or fitness class, after just 10 minutes all that ‘I don’t want to do it’ will have gone and you’ll feel happy you did it.get active

Make the school run count

Instead of automatically hopping in the car after the school run, set tasks and go to places that keep you and the children active. Can you walk home via a park, or take them swimming? Getting the family more active will help your own efforts to get fit – for ideas see

Embrace active gaming

If your family are fans of games consoles, switch to games that get them off the sofa. Try fitness-inspired, active games that all the family can play together. We love the Zumba Fitness range for Xbox 360 and the My Fitness Coach for Wii series, available from Amazon.

Swap the indoors for out

Research carried out by Mind, the mental health charity, found being active in the fresh air benefits our mental and physical health, increasing self-esteem and decreasing tension and depression. Keep a weekly record of how much time your family spends being sedentary, then commit to switching just one hour each week to outdoor activities: anything from walking the dog to playing tennis.get active

Rewire your past

You may have hated netball at school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start to love it now. Give sporty things you previously disregarded a go and you’ll probably surprise yourself. It’s worth a try.

Take a break

‘Mounting evidence points to a sedentary lifestyle as one of the biggest risk factors for obesity and chronic disease,’ says Healthy Food Guide expert and GP Dawn Harper. Always get away from your desk at lunchtime to stroll outside.

Get the itch

Some people are always thinking ‘Right, what can I do now?’ By thinking yourself more active it will gradually become your mindset and you’ll find yourself building more activity into every day.

Try a 10-min fix

If you’ve told yourself you don’t have time to exercise, the latest research shows that exercising in short bursts is an effective way to improve health and strengthen and tone your muscle groups. Got to pick up a few groceries? Leave the car at home and cycle down the road to the shops.

Are you an exercise avoider? Here’s how to ditch those excuses.