Britain is in the grip of an ‘inactivity epidemic’, with nearly half of adults failing to go for a brisk walk even once a month.
Health bosses say 45 per cent of over-16s are so sedentary they do not manage the health-boosting ten-minute walk.
Public Health England (PHE) officials are especially worried about more than 6 million inactive people aged between 40 and 60 who are putting their busy lives ahead of their health.
In a major change of strategy, they said inactive people should start aiming simply to get out for a short walk each day – rather than the more ambitious 150 minutes of exercise a week that has dominated NHS advice for years.
They said the British population was 20 per cent less active now than in the 1960s, and the average person walked 15 miles less a year than they did just two decades ago.
And they warned that cancer, diabetes and heart disease await those who do not get off the sofa.
‘The severity of the current physical inactivity epidemic among adults contributes to one in six deaths in the UK and is costing the NHS over £900million a year,’ a PHE spokesman said.
At present, the NHS recommends people get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity – including gardening, swimming, cycling or brisk walking – or 75 minutes of vigorous activity such as running or playing sports every week.
But officials accept the target may seem too ambitious for many people, and so are focusing instead on persuading people to get out for a moderate walk for ten minutes every day, and build up to the higher target.
Experts define a brisk walk as a speed of three miles an hour – enough to raise your temperature and make your heart beat faster.
SOURCE: BEN SPENCER