Focus on brisk walking, not just 10,000 steps, say health experts

With an estimated three million middle-aged adults physically inactive across the country, 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.

Health experts are encouraging people to increase the intensity of their walking, rather than just focus on the distance or number or 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.

A new survey by PHE looking at people’s perceptions of physical activity found that:

  • Many adults struggle to fit in exercise, not having enough time (31%) was the main reason cited, followed by not feeling motivated (27%) and being too tired (25%)
  • Half of these adults (50%) 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 1 in 7 (15%) think that more than 420 minutes per week is required (an hour per day)
  • Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) say they walk more than 10 minutes per day, however, this drops to just over half (54%) who say they walk briskly for this amount of time.

Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director at PHE, said: “Managing all the pressures of everyday life can mean that exercise takes a back seat, but building a brisk walk into your daily routine is a simple way to get more active.

“The Active 10 app gives you a clear picture of the intensity of your walk. Taking a brisk 10 minute walk each day will get your heart pumping, improve your mood and lower the risk of serious health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.”

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