Over 6.3 million adults aged 40-60 don’t manage to achieve 10 minutes of continuous, fast-paced walking over the course of a month, Public Health England (PHE) has revealed.
Physical inactivity among adults contributes to one in six deaths in the UK and is costing the NHS over £0.9 billion per year, PHE said.
PHE said people in the UK are 20% less active now than they were in the 1960s and, on average, walk 15 miles less a year than two decades ago.
The sedentary nature of modern, busy lives makes it difficult for many to find the time for enough exercise. But experts have urged members of the public to stop and make time, for the sake of their health.
“I know first hand that juggling the priorities of everyday life often means exercise takes a back seat,” said Dr Jenny Harries, deputy medical director at PHE.
“Walking to the shops instead of driving or going for a brisk ten minute walk on your lunch break each day can add many healthy years to your life.”
To combat the problem, PHE launched the One You campaign encouraging adults to build 10 minutes of continuous brisk walking into their day.
Not only has this form of activity been shown to reduce the risk of early death by 15%, but it can also lead to health benefits including a lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes (by 40%), cardiovascular disease (by 35%), dementia (by 30%) and some cancers (by 20%).
As part of its campaign, PHE has created an app called ‘Active 10’ which monitors how much walking a person is doing each day and shows how to incorporate more into their lifestyle.
The free app combines walking intensity and time, rather than just distance or steps, and has been called “the first of its kind”.
According to PHE, it has already helped 50,000 adults get more active.
The health body said GPs across the country are recommending it to their own patients as a tool to help them manage existing conditions and prevent the negative health impact of inactivity.
Dr Zoe Williams, GP and clinical champion for physical activity and lifestyle at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), said: “As GPs we’re best placed to talk to people about how their lifestyles affect their health.
“Every GP should talk to their patients about the benefits of brisk walking and recommend the Active 10 app. It’s the first free app of its kind and an easy, accessible way to make brisk walking a daily habit.”