A stark report published in The Lancet today suggests that physical inactivity is a greater risk to public health than smoking.
Exercise can no longer be viewed as personal choice, state the paper's authors.
According to their research, 5.3m people die from a lack of exercise each year, in comparison to 5.1m from smoking.
Scroll down for easy ways to raise your activity levels (PICTURES)
The report found that a failure to spend between 15 to 30 minutes each day doing brisk exercise could increase your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes by a third, while decreasing life expectancy by up to five years.
In the same study, The Lancet noted that Brits have become one of the most sedentary populations on earth, with almost twice the proportion of people defined as "inactive" as in neighbouring France.
The report criticised the approach by doctors and health professionals to tackle this chronic problem.
"Physical activity burdens society through the hidden and growing cost of medical care and loss of productivity," states the report.
"This passive attitude towards inactivity is anachronistic and reminiscent of the battles still being fought over smoking."
Public Health Minister Anne Milton told Huffpost Lifestyle: "Being active can help protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer which is why we encourage people to undertake at least 150 minutes of activity per week."
"Through our School Games programme we are encouraging all children and young people to take part in sports and this summer's Change4Life focuses on getting families off the sofa and getting active with personalised activity plans available for everyone."
Earlier this year, the Government launched Games4Life to inspire the nation to get active during this year’s summer of sport.
Milton continued: "We are also investing £30 million in the first ever National Sport and Exercise Medicine Centre of Excellence that will focus NHS expertise on getting everyone to stay active."
Department of Health guidelines recommend that:
- Children aged five to 18 should have 60 active minutes a day
- Adults should have 150 active minutes a week.
- Younger children aged two to four are recommended to get 180 minutes a day
Run out of steam when it comes to exercise? Huffpost Lifestyle asked Games4life for a few tricks on how to keep more active. Or for a free personalised activity plan with tips and ideas to help you reach 150 minutes, just visit Games4Life.