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Middle-aged people are being advised to pick up their walking pace while they are out and about in order to benefit their health and potentially lengthen their lives.
Public Health England (PHE) has issued a warning to the UK's 40 to 60-year-olds that they could be increasing their risk of premature death if they do not spend time walking at a brisk pace each day, BBC News reports.
Inactivity also makes them more likely to become obese, especially if they have unhealthy eating habits, and puts them at greater risk of becoming immobile. Currently, one in six deaths in Britain are linked to complications related to inactivity.
However, PHE has stated that spending as little as ten minutes walking at a reasonable pace each day could lower a person's risk of early death by as much as 15 per cent - advice that physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals need to be passing on to patients of all ages.
At the moment, almost half (41 per cent) of 40 to 60-year-olds do not manage one brisk ten-minute walk a month, meaning middle-aged people are now 20 per cent less active than they were 50 years ago.
Speaking to BBC News, 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.
"But 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 new official recommendation is that people walk at a pace equivalent to 3mph, as this will increase the heart rate, meaning more calories and fat will be burnt and muscles will be working harder.
PHE has created a new app called Active 10, fronted by Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford, which people can download to monitor their daily walking activity.
Physiotherapists treating middle-aged people for whom regular walking would be beneficial should consider recommending the app.
Dr Harries explained: "The Active 10 app is a free and easy way to help anyone build more brisk walking into their daily routine."
Written by Mathew Horton
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