Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of GPs are encouraging adults in the South West to focus on walking briskly rather than just counting steps to improve their health.

In England, one in five middle aged adults are physically inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week.

Many adults struggle to fit in exercise, with not enough time (27%) cited as the main reason for those in the South West, followed by not feeling motivated (30%) and being too tired (30%).

Just 10 minutes of brisk walking a day counts as exercise and can help protect and improve an individual’s health

PHE is encouraging adults in the South West to join the 600,000 across the country who have downloaded the free ‘Active 10’ app in order to briskly walk into a healthier life

With an estimated 3 million middle-aged adults physically inactive across the country, and with over 35% of adults 40-60 years old in the South West not managing at least 10 continuous minutes each month, Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) are encouraging adults to incorporate brisk walking into their days as a way to improve their general health and wellbeing.

As part of the push to get adults doing more moderate intensity physical activity each day, health experts are encouraging people to increase the intensity of their walking, rather than just focus on the distance or number of steps.

Moderate intensity physical activity means getting the heart rate up and breathing faster. Just 10 minutes of brisk walking a day is an easy way for adults to introduce more moderate intensity physical activity into their day and reduce their risk of early death by up to 15%.

To help adults do this, PHE’s ‘Active 10’ app has been created and it is the only app of its kind that combines intensity and time, rather than just distance.

Taking a 10 minute brisk walk each day can help build up towards the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) recommendation of at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity. This has been linked to health benefits including a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

A new survey by PHE looking at adults perceptions of physical activity in the South West found many adults struggle to fit in exercise, with not enough time (27%) cited as the main reason for those in the South West, followed by not feeling motivated (30%) and being too tired (30%).

Over half of adults (53%) think more than 240 minutes of exercise per week is required to see general health benefits - nearly double the recommended guidance of at least 150 minutes - and one in seven (16%) think that more than 420 minutes per week is required (an hour per day)

Nearly nine in 10 (94%) say they walk more than 10 minutes per day, however this drops to almost half (48%) who say they walk briskly for this amount of time.

The current physical inactivity crisis also has a societal impact. In adults, physical inactivity contributes to one in six deaths in the UK and costs the NHS over £0.5 billion per year.

Cllr Jackie Stockman, Executive Lead for Health and Wellbeing said: “Small, often simple, lifestyle changes can have a really positive impact on our health and wellbeing, so anything that encourages people to live better, and move more is a good thing. There has been a substantial rise in the number of people who have developed multiple, long-term conditions in recent years, and many of these, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are linked to not being active enough.”

Dr Campbell Murdoch, GP and Public Health England Physical Activity Clinical Champion said: “Working as a GP, I’m aware that for some of my patients juggling the demands of everyday life can mean that time for planned exercise is often limited. However brisk walking built into daily life is a great way to get more physically active. The key is to make brisk walking a habit, and the Active 10 app is a great help in achieving this.

“Taking a brisk 10 minute walk to get your heart pumping and muscles working is an effective way of improving mood, and lowering the risk of serious health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. The Active 10 app helps to encourage beneficial brisk walking rather than just the number of steps taken in a day.”

Professor Sir Muir Gray, Clinical Adviser for the Active 10 app and One You campaign, said: “The additional health benefits that can be achieved by walking at a brisk pace for periods of 10 minutes or more - as opposed to totting up a certain number of steps throughout the day – are undeniable.

 “I’d advise anyone of any age and activity level to start to fit in at least one 10 minute brisk walk a day as a simple way to get more active, especially those who may be taking medication for a long term health condition - you will receive even more benefits from walking briskly for 10 minutes or more a day”

Already, 47,632 people in the South West have downloaded the ‘Active 10’ app and in a single month, approximately and 296,838 ‘Active 10s’ (ten-minute brisk walks) were completed by Active 10 users.

‘Active 10’ is supported by the RCGP and was developed by PHE in collaboration with The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine.

Join the 600,000 people across the country who have downloaded ‘Active 10’ and make the first step towards a healthier you. Search ‘Active 10’ to download the app for free.

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