Be active

Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

  • Exercise is good for health, both physical and psychological.

  • Exercise (weight-bearing) gives some protection from osteopenia/osteoporosis (e.g. common with long-term steroids or inactivity).

  • Exercise protects against heart disease.

  • Exercise reduces the chance of cancer and/or recurrence of cancer.

  • Allied health professionals/nurses can expertly help people find exercise suitable for their health status.

Exercise is good for reducing sensation of breathlessness.


Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

  • Social isolation is bad for health.

  • Encourage patients to strengthen their social network, particularly if they use oxygen or feel stigmatised for any reason.

  • Informed social networks (e.g. Breathe Easy, Men in Sheds) can offer support when other networks (e.g. some friends) disappoint.

  • “Connect” is often associated with “Be active” and “Keep learning”.

Take notice

Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.

  • Rumination predisposes to depression, which is associated with worse health outcomes (and linked to social isolation).

  • Mindfulness training (mindfulness-based stress reduction) is an evidence-based way to encourage living in the present and reducing rumination.

  • Other models of building psychological health include health coaching and “buddying systems”


Do something nice for a friend or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community, can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

  • Altruism is good for health and for building personal resilience, although excess can be harmful.

  • Allied health professionals/nurses can help individuals participate in health-building altruistic activities and, where necessary, help people give themselves permission to not be altruistic.

Keep learning

Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.

  • People with chronic illness experience many social losses; learning new skills may be a necessity for employment, for helping social confidence and morale.

  • It can be a way of managing stress, anxiety and any symptoms.

Compiled by the New Economics Foundation, within the UK Government’s Foresight project. Reproduced and modified from [24] with permission.