More than six million adults across England do not manage a brisk 10-minute walk each month, according to new research revealing the shocking levels of inactivity among middle-aged people.
Public Health England (PHE) said 41 per cent of the 15.3 million English adults aged 40 to 60 walk less than 10 minutes continuously each month at a brisk pace.
Health leaders encouraged people to walk to the shop instead of drive and take up walking on lunch breaks to add "many healthy years" to their lives.
Aiming to do a brisk walk – of at least 3mph – for 10 minutes each day is likely to be seen as "achievable" by people who are chronically inactive, PHE said.
The health benefits of brisk walking for 10 minutes each day include: increased fitness, improved mood, increased leanness and a healthier weight and a 15 per cent reduction in the risk of dying prematurely, PHE said.
Walking requires no skill, facilities or equipment and is more "accessible and acceptable" than other forms of physical activity for most people, according to a PHE report.
Guidance issued by the UK's four chief medical officers in 2011 instructed the British population on how much exercise they should be participating in each week – they stated that adults should be taking part in at least two-and-a-half hours (150 minutes) of moderate intensity activity every week.
The new PHE report said a quarter of the English population is "inactive" – doing less than 30 minutes of activity per week.
"For some of these individuals 150 minutes may seem an unrealistic aim," according to the PHE report.
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy medical director at PHE, said: "I know first hand that juggling the priorities of everyday life often means exercise takes a back seat.
"Walking to the shops instead of driving or going for a brisk 10-minute walk on your lunch break each day can add many healthy years to your life."
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