Failure to walk briskly may increase health risks

Public Health England has launched the One You physical activity campaign to encourage people to do brisk 10 minute walks* with the accompanying Active 10 app.

According to evidence reviewed by Public Health England (PHE) more than 850,000 adults aged 40-60 in the North West** do not achieve ten minutes of continuous brisk walking over the course of a month and are missing out on important health benefits such as preventing cancer, heart disease and poor mental health.

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 two 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.

Meeting the CMO’s physical activity guidance of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise can provide health benefits including a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes (by 40%), cardiovascular disease (by 35%), dementia (by 30%) and some cancers (by 20%). Taking at least one brisk ten minute walk a day has been shown to reduce the risk of early death by 15%.

To stay healthy, the Chief Medical Officer advises adults aged 19-64 to do 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week. This should consist of a mix of aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking, and strengthening exercises on at least two days a week.

The severity of the current physical inactivity epidemic amongst adults contributes to one in six deaths in the UK and is costing the NHS over £0.9 billion per year.

Caroline Holtom, PHE North West Health & Wellbeing Support Manager said: “It is worrying that so many 40 to 60 year olds across the North West are not doing ten minutes brisk walk a month. This app has already proved to be hugely popular and it can be a great way to encourage these 315,000 inactive adults to build walking into their everyday lives. The app has achievable goals that help users to gradually built up their activity. You can start small and and build up gradually. Just 10 minutes a day can provide benefits to your health and wellbeing. It can be hard to change our habits, but by walking just ten minutes a day at a brisk pace can have enormous health benefits and is good for your overall wellbeing as well.”

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 activiy 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: Many digital products tell us to aim for 10,000 steps a day, which is a good recommendation but may seem unachievable to many people tied to the desk, screen or steering wheel for eight hours a day.

“It’s important to consider both distance and intensity of walking to get the heart pumping in order to improve health. Walking briskly for ten minutes each day benefits inactive adults the most, which is why the Active 10 app fits millions of people’s needs so well.”  

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 Public Health England in collaboration with The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and the National Centre for Sports 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.

* 10 minutes brisk walking each day in mid-life for health benefits and achievement of recommended activity levels evidence paper Link to evidence paper and assets

**Calculation of population figures: ONS mid year population estimates, mid-2016



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