Exercise. Who has time for that? Kids and work are tiring enough, right?

You only get so much time to yourself and there are a lot of things that you need to fit in during that time: chores, errands, shopping, Netflix... the list goes on. After a hard day, relaxation seems a lot more appealing than exercise.

But what if we were to tell you that moving around for two-and-half hours a week would lower your risk of depression and dementia by 30%. Or cut your chances of getting type 2 diabetes or colon cancer in half. Or make you 83% less likely to develop osteoarthritis?

In a week of 10,080 minutes, putting 150 aside to do something active doesn't really seem too bad. It's only half an hour, five times a week. That should still leave plenty of time to do the things you enjoy.

But what to do to get active when you're not a fan of exercise? Well you don't want jump straight in and enter yourself in the Great North Run, that's for sure. There are loads of other things you can do, though. And who knows, they might even get you to the point where you can run a half marathon... with a fridge on your back.

Here are a few tips from GO Gateshead HQ. You'll be pleased to know they don't all involve exercise.

Walk before you can run

Getting active isn't about throwing yourself head-first into high intensity training or hitting the gym like a maniac - you'll do yourself more harm than good that way. You're much better off starting small and building up from there. Quite literally walking before you can run.

Walking is the best entry to exercise. It's free and enjoyable. All you need to do put on a pair of comfortable shoes and head out the door. You could start by walking to shop or doing the school run on foot and build it up walking to work or taking strolls around Gateshead on one of our guided walks.

There are plenty of great places to walk around Tyne and Wear and the better the scenery, the more pleasant it is. Dogs make for good walking companions too, if you have access to one make the most of it, they'll never complain about going for a stroll.

Experts recommend walking 10,000 steps a day. Most people walk between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day without noticing, so 10,000 steps is an achievable target. But don't overdo it. Don't risk injury and don't get too much out of breath. If you feel a stitch coming on, have a rest. And always, always drink plenty of water.

The NHS has some useful to tips on walking for health (opens new window).

When you feel like you're ready to progress to the next level, get in touch. We'll be able to recommend some suitable activities.

Set a goal

Set yourself a simple goal and work towards achieving it. For example, if you're just starting out, setting yourself the target of exercising 30 minutes a day is clear goal that's within reach. From there, the goal might be to jog around the block, or swimming a few lengths in the pool. When you've reached a goal, reward yourself. Give yourself a big old pat on the back and tuck in to your favourite meal.

Having goals keeps you motivated. But keep them realistic and don't get disheartened if you don't hit your target, the leisure centre will always be open tomorrow!

Join a class

The most important thing about being active is fun. If it isn't enjoyable, what's the point? There are plenty of other enjoyable things you could be doing like watching tele and drinking tea.

Taking part in a class keeps things fun and motivates you not to give up. It's a bunch of people having a laugh and inspiring each other. We're like a big old family, without the insulting Nana or that drunken uncle that sings We Are the Champions with a tie around his head at every family do.

There are hundreds of classes you can join across GO Gateshead leisure centres. Things like Zumba, Aquafit and Legs, Bums and Core are great for beginners.

See what's on at your local centre. And bring a friend if you like, the more the merrier!

Eat right, snack right

Eating the right food makes activity so much easier. It's gives you more energy, improves your mood and goes a long way towards lowering your risk of some of this illnesses and ailments we talked about in the intro.

Eating better and exercising go hand-in-hand, so try to eat as well as you can, as often as you can. The more you do it, the more you'll love it.

We're not suggesting you go and throw everything out of your fridge/freezer to completely overhaul your diet overnight. We'd never do that. Not when you've just bought a fresh tub of chocolate brownie ice cream.

What we do recommend is making small changes like picking a new food to change every week. This week you could swap chips for sweet potato fries, for example. Next week could be egg fried rice out, brown rice in. The week after could be eating granola instead of Coco-Pops.

Healthy snacking is good too. When you're feeling a bit peckish between meals, munch on a carrot stick instead of a chocolate bar, or pick up some roasted pumpkin seeds to replace your crisps. Every little helps, as a well-known supermarket once said.

Local blog, Wholeheartedly Laura (opens new window), has some great healthy-eating ideas - sweet treats included.

Rest up

The bit where you're not active is every bit as important as the time you spend walking or exercising at the leisure centre. Your muscles need rest to repair and grow. If you constantly work muscles without rest, you'll do yourself an injury. It's why you might hear bodybuilders talking about 'leg day' and 'back day'. They work different muscle groups each day to give others a day or two off.

Try to rest for two days a week to let your body recover. It takes about two weeks of non-activity to notice a dip in performance, so two days rest won't hinder your progress.

If activity is putting strain on joints that rest doesn't seem to cure, try working some different low-impact exercises into your routine. Swimming is a great one for that, as it strengthens muscles without putting any pressure on joints. 

If you're interested in taking up a class or need any help setting fitness goals, GO Gateshead has a whole team of people that love talking about this sort of thing. We'll even get you set up with a free pass so you can try out the facilities at our leisure centres and see what you enjoy the most. Get in touch or pop into any of our centres.

And if you have any first-timer tips of your own, tell us. We love reading them.