GPs told to recommend phone app to tackle middle-aged inactivity

GPs have been urged to crack down on middle-aged inactivity after Public Health England (PHE) found two in five patients aged 40-60 walk less than 10 minutes at a brisk pace per month.

Over 6.3m adults aged 40-60 do not manage 10 minutes of continuous brisk walking over the course of a whole month – and are missing out on important health benefits as a result, PHE has warned.

It has launched a health app as part of its One You campaign, which the RCGP has encouraged GPs to recommend to patients to help manage existing conditions and prevent the negative impact of inactivity.

The Active 10 app encourages people to incorporate brisk 10-minute walks into their daily routine to help reduce their risk of or delay developing serious conditions and early death, and gradually encourages them to introduce more activity.

The app, available free-of-charge, tracks patients’ activity by measuring both walking intensity and time spent – rather than just step counts or total distance travelled – a feature PHE described as ‘the first of its kind’.

It comes as evidence reviewed by PHE shows that people in the UK are 20% less active now than they were in the 1960s, and that adults on average walk 15 miles less a year than two decades ago.

Physical inactivity

The severity of the current physical inactivity epidemic amongst adults contributes to one in six deaths in the UK, and costs over £0.9bn a year, PHE warned.

Walking just 10 continuous minutes at a brisk pace every day can reduce risk of early death by 15% and help prevent or delay onset of disability, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia and some cancers.

PHE launched its One You campaign last year in March. It aims to ‘inform, energise and engage’ millions of adults to make simple changes to eat well, drink less alcohol and move more to improve their health.

Dr Zoe Williams, RCGP clinical champion for physical activity, said: ‘As GPs we’re best placed to talk to people about how their lifestyles affect their health.

‘Every GP should talk to their patients about the benefits of brisk walking and recommend the Active 10 app. It’s the first free app of its kind and an easy, accessible way to make brisk walking a daily habit.’

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 ten minute walk on your lunch break each day can add many healthy years to your life. The Active 10 app is a free and easy way to help anyone build more brisk walking into their daily routine.’

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