Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and Public Health England (PHE) have joined forces to help middle-aged people in the region get more healthy and save money, with the aid of the new 'Active 10' app and ‘Short Hop’ fares.
Over 650,000 adults aged 40–60 in the West Midlands do not achieve 10 minutes of continuous brisk walking over the course of a month and are missing out on health benefits, according to a Public Health England paper which reveals people in the UK are 20% less active now than in the 1960s and on average walk 15 miles less a year than two decades ago.
PHE’s 'One You' physical activity campaign is encouraging adults to build a 10 minute continuous brisk walk into their day as a simple way to improve health – something which has been shown to reduce the risk of early death by 15%. Getting enough physical activity each week can also provide health benefits including a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes (by 40%), cardiovascular disease (by 35%), dementia (by 30%) and some cancers (by 20%).
The severity of the current physical inactivity epidemic amongst adults contributes to one in six deaths in the UK and is costing the NHS over £0.9 billion per year. Now TfWM, the transport arm of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is using its Network West Midlands partnership with the region’s bus, train and tram operators to encourage its customers to get more exercise as part of their daily commute, by downloading the Active 10 app. The app shows how much brisk walking a person is doing each day and how to incorporate more of it into their lifestyles – so they can walk briskly for an extra one to three stops, and save money on their usual fare by only needing to purchase a Short Hop ticket.
Councillor Diana Holl-Allen, lead member for safe and sustainable travel on the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Transport Delivery Committee said: “One of the best ways for people to make sure they take regular exercise is to try and build it into their daily routine. It can often be hard to find the time or know how to start being more active, which is why this campaign is a great reminder that a lot of people have the opportunity to build physical activity into daily trips like walking to their local bus stop.
“It’s easy to forget that the walk to and from catching a bus counts as exercise. By walking an extra stop or two you can make sure that you get a daily brisk ten minute walk with all the health benefits that come with that while also potentially saving money. By working with Public Health England we’ve identified several places around the West Midlands where walking those extra stops can get you into the next travel zone and save money.”
Dr Helen Carter, Director of Healthcare Public Health at PHE West Midlands, said: “Physical activity is a vital part of remaining healthy, and inactivity among adults contributes to one in six deaths in the UK, the same as smoking. We know that taking at least one 10 minute brisk walk a day can reduce the risk of early death by 15%, while a good level of activity each week can provide a multitude of health benefits. So it’s really good to have Network West Midlands on board to help us get people in the region more active.
“You don’t have to start an expensive fitness programme to get the benefits of exercise. Just a 10 minute brisk walk will make a positive difference. Whether you’re walking as part of your journey to work, stepping out at lunch time, nipping to the shops or taking the dog for a walk at the local park, there are lots of ways you can get active for 10 minutes. Our new Active 10 app is the first free app to show you when you are walking fast enough and long enough to get health benefits. It also shows how much brisk walking you’re doing, where you can increase your pace and fit more activity into your day, and it sets goals and provides tips to keep you going.”
The free app combines walking intensity and time, rather than just distance or steps and is the first of its kind. It helps people gradually introduce more activiy into their daily routine, with goal setting advice and motivational tips. It has already helped over 50,000 adults get more active.
The Active 10 app was developed by Public Health England in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine.
Search Active 10 to download the free app, which shows how much brisk walking you are currently doing and provides tips and encouragement on how to fit 10 minute bursts of brisk walking into your daily routine.
- Over four out of 10 adults (42%) aged 40–60 in the West Midlands walk less than 10 minutes continuously each month at a brisk pace
- 10 minutes of walking at a brisk intensity each day can help prevent cancer, heart disease and poor mental health
- Physical inactivity amongst adults contributes to one in six deaths in the UK and is costing the NHS over £0.9 billion per year