Intensity better than counting steps

We are all now encouraged to count our steps – 10,000 a day being the recommended goal – but health experts are now saying that we should focus on the intensity of walking, rather than just the actual number of steps we take each day.

With an estimated 3 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.

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%.

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 people’s perceptions of physical activity found that[YouGov surveyed 3007 adults in England aged 40-60. Fieldwork was undertaken online between 10th – 16th May 2018. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all English adults (aged 40 – 60).
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 one in seven (15%) think that more than 420 minutes per week is required (an hour per day.

Nearly nine 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.
The current physical inactivity crisis also has a societal impact. In adults, physical inactivity contributes to one in six deaths in the UK[vi] and costs the NHS over £0.5 billion per year.
Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director at Public Health England, 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.”

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”

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The Hippocratic Editorial and VT team. Please send your suggestions to [email protected]
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