Over one million adults aged 40 to 60 in the South East do not achieve ten minutes of continuous brisk walking over the course of a month and are missing out on health benefits, according to a new evidence paper from Public Health England (PHE).
Statistics from Kent reflect this sedentary trend, with 26.7% of adults doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week – which works out to less than four minutes a day.
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 inactive 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. 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.
KCC Director for Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “We support the ‘One You’ campaign in Kent because it reinforces the work already underway in the county to encourage people to reappraise their lifestyle choices, think carefully about their diet and the amount of daily physical activity they do, to put themselves first and do something about their own health before it’s too late.”
Taking at least one brisk ten minute walk a day has been shown to reduce the risk of early death by 15%. Getting enough physical activity each week can also 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%).
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.
Angela Baker, Deputy Director, Health and Wellbeing for Public Health England South East, said: “Starting to introduce exercise into your life when you have not been doing any can feel very daunting – especially for those intimidated by gyms full of lycra.
“You don’t have to start expensive fitness regimes or wear sports kits to get the benefits of an active lifestyle, though. Whether walking to work, stepping out at lunchtime or taking the dog for a walk – there are many ways to incorporate a brisk walk into your daily life and we hope this app will help people to do this.”
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”
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.
For more information on the support services available in Kent and to take the One You quiz to get your personalised health score, go to www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/one-you-kent