Adults should walk briskly for 10 minutes a day to stay healthy rather than focusing on distance or the quantity of steps, health officials have said.
In England, one in five middle-aged adults are physically inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week, according to PHE.
Not having enough time is cited as the main reason (31%), followed by not feeling motivated (27%) and being too tired (25%).
The official recommendation is for adults to carry out at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, which has been linked to health benefits including a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
But the PHE poll found half (50%) of the adults questioned thought more than 240 minutes of exercise a week is required to see general health benefits.
One in seven (15%) thought more than 420 minutes a week is needed, amounting to an hour a day.
However the majority (87%) said they already walk more than 10 minutes a day, although only just over half (54%) said they walk briskly for this amount of time.
PHE has created the Active 10 app, which measures a walker’s intensity and time, rather than just distance.
Professor Sir Muir Gray, clinical adviser for the Active 10 app, said: “The additional health benefits that can be achieved by walking at a brisk pace for periods of 10 minutes or more – as opposed to totting up a certain number of steps throughout the day – are undeniable.
“I’d advise anyone of any age and activity level to start to fit in at least one 10-minute brisk walk a day as a simple way to get more active, especially those who may be taking medication for a long-term health condition – you will receive even more benefits from walking briskly for 10 minutes or more a day.”
PHE medical director Professor Paul Cosford said: “Managing all the pressures of everyday life can mean that exercise takes a back seat, but building a brisk walk into your daily routine is a simple way to get more active.
“The Active 10 app gives you a clear picture of the intensity of your walk. Taking a brisk 10-minute walk each day will get your heart pumping, improve your mood and lower the risk of serious health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.”
YouGov surveyed more than 3,000 adults in England aged 40 to 60 for the poll.