The Chief Medical Officer recommends that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. That’s roughly 30 minutes a day, if you factor in two rest days a week. Despite this advice, 6 million people aged 40-60 are still not managing even 10 continuous minutes of walking each month.
Brits are 20% less active than we were in the 1960’’s, we walk less, have higher car ownership and spend our working lives in more sedentary jobs.
Inactivity is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths in the UK, whereas the health benefits of regular, low-impact, exercise are numerous. Exercise is a mood and energy booster, lowers blood pressure and eases aches and pains. Regular activity is proven to help us live longer and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and some cancers.
So why on earth are we still having trouble getting off the couch?
There are two key factors stopping many people from exercising. The first is simple, time. Finding the time and the energy is a big factor for many. Our lives are busier than they have ever been. Fitting exercise into an already busy schedule can feel practically impossible.
The other major hurdle for most is that formal exercise is daunting. The older we get, the more terrifying the mere thought of starting, or getting back into, regular exercise can be. Signing up to a local gym or going out for a run can feel more challenging than the activity itself.
Which is why Public Health England (PHE) are pitching their One You campaign at people who really don’t know how or where to start. New evidence from PHE shows that just 10 minutes of brisk walking a day can reduce the risk of early death by 15%. The campaign challenges individuals to get up and get active, to add a 10 minute brisk walk to their daily commute, shopping trip, school run or lunch break. Everyone can find 10 minutes in their day to improve their health.
Which is where Active 10 comes in. With the help of the University of Shefflield, Sheffield Hallam University and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), PHE have developed an app to help track activity. The Active 10 app is the first free app to track walking intensity and time, rather than just steps. It was downloaded over 50,000 times by August following it’s initial launch in March.
Professor Sir Muir Gray, clinical adviser for the Active 10 app and the One You campaign, said:
“We all know physical activity is good for your health, but for the first time we are seeing the effects that easily achievable changes can make.”
The app tracks how much brisk walking you do during the day and logs them in 10 minute bite-size pieces – Active 10’s. At the end of the day you get to see how active you’ve been during the day, and work towards achieving the ideal 150 minutes a week. Users can set their own goals and track their progress.
Sheila Mitchell, Marketing Director at Public Health England, said:
“The Active 10 app differentiates itself from other walking products on the market by focusing on intensity and time. It has been designed for, and tested with, those who are doing very little, or no physical activity at all, and who are unfamiliar with many of the fitness apps on the market. It is perfect for the people we’re trying to support, who are not able to fit high levels of exercise into their busy lives, and may be resistant to apps that push you to achieve too much too soon.”
The App has also been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and is being recommended by GPs across the country to encourage patients to increase their activity.
The Campaign is growing in momentum and in August, day time TV hosts, Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford announced their support as ambassadors for the campaign. Since then the app has surpassed the 100,000 download mark.
Most of us understand that we need to get out and exercise more often, but we could all do with a little encouragement now and again. Active 10 aims to help people recognise that big changes can be achieved in bite size pieces.
The free app is an excellent way to encourage employees to get out and make the most of their lunch break, or commute.