Officials at Public Health England are urging people ages 40 to 60 to start doing regular brisk walks. Walking briskly, as little as 10 minutes a day, can have a major impact, reducing the risk of early death by 15%.

According to Public Health England, four out of every 10 40 to 60-year-olds do not even manage a brisk 10-minute walk each month. Below are some health estimates from Public Health England, as summarized by the BBC News:

Picture of walking stats courtesy of the BBC

The government agency has created a free walking app called Active 10. The app monitors the amount of brisk walking an individual does and provide tips on how to incorporate more into the daily routine. The app is available in England only but if you are in Canada, we welcome you to download the free Walk10Blocks app (currently available for iPhones or iPod touch with iOS 9.0 or later). The two apps, though originating in two different countries, are apples to oranges – similar, yet unique.

In an interview with the BBC, Dr. Jenny Harries, Deputy Medical Director at Public Health England, said: “I know first hand that juggling priorities of everyday life often means exercise takes a back seat. But walking to the shops instead of driving, or going for a brisk 10-minute walk on your lunch break each day, can add many healthy years to your life.”

Three years ago, Maureen Ejimofor, 44, made a goal to herself to improve her own health. Within seven months of taking regular walks, she went from 18 stone (approximately 252 pounds) to 13 stone (approximately 182 pounds). She has been using the Active 10 app and describes it as “really useful” in persuading users to get a “burst” of brisk walking into their day. She has since joined a walking group in Kent and is now in charge of taking groups of people out for walks on the weekends.

Liam Quigley, who just turned 60, is also a fan of walking. He reminisces about the time his parents used to take him out on walks but admits that as he got older, he enjoyed the finer things in life and drank and ate quite a bit, putting on a lot of weight. He joined Stockport Walkers and now takes 10-mile hikes and has since lost two stone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a brisk walking pace is 3.0 miles per hour or about 20 minutes per mile (approximately 5 kilometres per hour or 12 minutes per kilometre). A nice easy walk is about 3.6 kilometres per hour. Tools like the walking pace calculator can measure the time it takes you to walk a mile or kilometre. A general rule is that a brisk walk should leave you breathing faster and increase your heart rate.

General practitioner should also encourage their patients to walk faster. In an interview with the BBC, Dr. Zoe Williams from the Royal College of GPs, said: “Every GP should talk to their patients about the benefits of brisk walking and recommend the Active 10 app.”

Public Health England observed a significant drop in activity levels in the middle-aged group. They recommend people do 150 minutes of activity a week, but nearly half of the people in the middle-aged group fail to achieve this goal. In fact, one in five does less than 30 minutes. Meeting the 10-minute brisk walk goal will not get them to the recommended level, but will be enough to make a difference in reducing the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, weight issues, depression and anxiety and musculoskeletal problems such as lower back pain.

Public Health England hopes that this middle-aged group will be able to inspire the next generation to stay active. Dominic Hughes, BBC health correspondent, summarizes ways to incorporate walking into your daily routine here: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-41030630

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