One small step... Inactivity is world's fourth-biggest killer

If you're one of the Britons who only walks for nine minutes a day, read on: inactivity is the world's fourth-biggest killer, and two-thirds of us are not being physical enough for good health

A quarter of British adults now walk for less than nine minutes a day – including time spent getting to the car, work and the shops. The figures, from a YouGov poll for the Ramblers, published exclusively in The Independent on Sunday, reveal that a quarter of Britons walk on average for less than an hour every week.

The survey of more than 2,000 over-18s shows that while nine out of 10 Britons agree that walking is a good form of exercise which can keep you healthy, most are not doing so nearly enough.

Almost half of people surveyed walk for two hours or less a week – meaning they are not doing enough walking to stay healthy. Chief medical officers recommend that adults do 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, like walking, per week, but 43 per cent of people surveyed walk for 120 minutes or less.

William Bird, a GP who specialises in the benefits of exercise, said: "We're going to find this generation will die earlier than their parents if they don't start doing basic movement. We all age quicker when we're not moving and the consequences of that are age-related diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer."

Dr Bird trains other doctors in the importance of telling their patients to move and said the figures should be a warning to his colleagues to make encouraging exercise a priority. "A lot of doctors know very little at all about the importance of physical activity and it's at the bottom of their list, but if you got everyone walking it would have a massive effect on the health of the country."

Two-thirds of adults in the UK are not doing enough physical activity for good health and the World Health Organisation now ranks physical inactivity as the fourth-biggest killer in the world – ahead of obesity and just behind high blood pressure, tobacco and high blood glucose. The British walking charity, the Ramblers, is calling for a "walking revolution" to get 100,000 more Britons on their feet and going for regular strolls as part of their daily lives. Their poll was commissioned to mark the start of Get Walking Week, when Ramblers groups across Britain will be leading free short walks of five miles or less led by experienced walk leaders.

Benedict Southworth, chief executive of the Ramblers, said: "We want people all over Britain to join the walking revolution and take their first steps towards a healthier and happier lifestyle. Walking is one of the most accessible and achievable ways to conquer this inactivity pandemic in Britain, and we need to get started now. Find a short walk with your local Walking for Health scheme or Ramblers group during Get Walking Week and join us as we get Britain moving."

Diane Abbott, Labour's spokesperson for public health, said the figures were a "worrying" indication of the state of the nation's health. "If the average person is so inactive then that means that most children aren't seeing adults being active, which will only contribute to the obesity epidemic. One of the ways you can support people to get more active is through public health education, which is why it's so worrying that the Government is cutting that budget."

Ms Abbott believes practical design changes could also improve the amount of walking built into the average Briton's day.

She said: "We need to plan activity into the way buildings are designed. The first thing you see in a building is often a lift – then you have to look for the stairs. It should be the other way around."

Anna Soubry, minister for Public Health, attended one of the Ramblers' walks yesterday at Attenborough Nature Centre in Beeston, Nottinghamshire. She insisted the Government was not cutting public health spending, and had increased the budget given to local authorities for it by up to 10 per cent. But the Government has cut spending on public service advertising – one of the most common routes to raising awareness of the health benefits of exercise.

The annual budget for Change 4 Life, the anti-obesity advertising campaign with animated Plasticine figures, was cut from £25m to £14m in 2011/12. Ms Soubry said: "We have to look – and that's what we're doing – at how we help people to lead the sort of lifestyles that mean they will have longer, happier lives."

Kam Marwaha, 28, from east London, joined one of the many walks held around the country yesterday. Two years ago, the charity worker weighed 13.5st and walked for only 10 minutes a day. Since then, she has lost around four stone through walking and healthier eating.

She said: "Two years ago, my sister suggested doing a charity walk and so I started walking the three miles to work and three miles back. I went from a size 14-16 to a size 8-10."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Corporate Tax Solicitor

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL ...

    Relationship Manager

    £500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Relationship Manager, London, Banking, Accountant...

    Marketing & PR Assistant - NW London

    £15 - £17 per hour: Ashdown Group: Marketing & PR Assistant - Kentish Town are...

    Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer

    £250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home