More than 3m middle-aged adults in England are currently inactive, doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week, with inactivity estimated to cost the NHS more than £500m a year.
But just 10 minutes of moderate exercise per day - such as brisk walking - can reduce risk of early death by 15%, according to Public Health England (PHE). Stepping this up to the 150 minutes per week recommended by the UK CMO can reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
The campaign urges patients to take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. A PHE app - Active 10 - endorsed by the RCGP encourages patients to take a brisk 10-minute walk each day and offers advice on diet.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘There has been a substantial rise in the number of patients who have developed multiple long-term conditions in recent years and many of these, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, are linked to not being active enough.
'While GPs and our teams will always encourage patients to make lifestyle changes that could potentially benefit their long-term health and wellbeing, the responsibility cannot solely lie with healthcare professionals, and patients must also play their part.'
Dr Zoe Williams, GP and RCGP clinical champion for physical activity and lifestyle, said: ‘GPs want their patients to be healthy and enjoy life, and there are simple ways in which we can all improve our health. I often encourage my patients to take up more daily physical activity, which can start with just a 10-minute brisk walk – it would be great to see more people doing this across the country.
‘Moving more is an important step forward to improving the health of the nation and looking after our NHS, which is often overburdened by lifestyle related illness.’
More than 600,000 people have downloaded the app - first recommended by the RCGP in 2017.