When told that you can exercise for just ten minutes a day to improve your health you might immediately start imagining just how savage the exercise is going to have to be for that to be the case. We certainly did, so we were very pleasantly surprised to learn that the exercise involved wasn’t an unrelenting round of burpees or a few rounds with Anthony Joshua, but walking. Well, not just walking. It has to be brisk walking – but all the same that sounds pleasant, rather than brutally tough.
Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of GPs are encouraging adults to focus on how intense their walking is, rather than shooting for a 10,000 steps a day goal, starting with ten minutes a day of brisk walking. PHE research has found that three million middle-aged adults in England are physically inactive, meaning they don’t hit the recommended 30 minutes a day of moderate activity a day, and one of the main reasons given for this is a lack of time. Starting with ten minutes of brisk walking can start people on the path to achieving that 30-minute goal, and it also brings with it many health benefits by itself.
The Active 10 campaign launched by PHE hails the potential benefits of ten minutes of brisk walking, which include a reduced risk of serious illnesses like heart disease, dementia and type 2 diabetes. Walking can also help with lower back pain, but it’s also just a great way to spend your time because it’ll help clear your head. We’ll bet you feel more energised after a brisk constitutional than you did before you started.
So on to the key question: what counts as brisk? The simple answer is any walking that’s faster than your usual pace so it gets your heart pumping that bit quicker. You don’t have to be flying along like an Olympic racewalker – just pushing yourself a little. For a more exact definition we’d encourage you to download the free Active 10 app, which is available on the App Store and Google Play. This will track your walking and let you know how much of your daily plodding counted as brisk, as well as providing you with targets to shoot for.
The idea is that once you get hooked on your brisk walks you’ll start extending them to the 30-minute mark or longer. But rest assured that even when you just do ten, you will be improving your health and fitness.