Over 6.3 million adults aged 40 to 60 do not achieve 10 minutes of continuous brisk walking over the course of a month and are missing out on important health benefits, according to evidence reviewed by Public Health England (PHE).
The findings also reveal how lifestyles have changed over time, showing that 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 2 decades ago. The sedentary nature of modern, busy lives makes it difficult for many to find the time for enough exercise to benefit their health.
PHE’s new One You physical activity campaign is encouraging adults to build 10 minutes continuous brisk walking into their day as a simple way to improve their health. This is particularly aimed at those who have an inactive or low activity lifestyle and may find incorporating activity into their day challenging. The ‘Active 10’ app has been developed to show how much brisk walking a person is doing each day and how to incorporate more of it into their lifestyles.
Taking at least 1 brisk 10 minute walk a day has been shown to reduce the risk of early death by 15%. A 10 minute walk can contribute to meeting the CMO’s physical activity guidance of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week. This can 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%).
The severity of the current physical inactivity epidemic amongst adults contributes to 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and is costing the NHS over £0.9 billion per year.
Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Medical Director at PHE, said: “I know first hand that juggling the priorities of everyday life often means exercise takes a back seat.
Walking to the shops instead of driving or going for a brisk 10 minute walk on your lunch break each day can add many healthy years to your life. The Active 10 app is a free and easy way to help anyone build more brisk walking into their daily routine.”
The free app combines walking intensity and time, rather than just distance or steps and is the first of its kind. It helps people gradually introduce more activity into their daily routine, with goal setting advice and motivational tips. It has already helped 50,000 adults get more active.
Professor Sir Muir Gray, Clinical Adviser for the Active 10 app and the One You campaign, said: “We all know physical activity is good for your health, but for the first time we’re seeing the effects that easily achievable changes can make. By walking just 10 continuous minutes at a brisk pace every day, an individual can reduce their risk of early death by 15%. They can also prevent or delay the onset of disability and further reduce their risk of serious health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia and some cancers.”
The Active 10 app has been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). 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 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.”
The Active 10 app was developed by PHE in collaboration with The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.
Search ‘Active 10’ to download the free app which shows how much brisk walking you are currently doing and provides tips and encouragement on how to fit ten minute bursts of brisk walking into your daily routine.