active 10 app developer team First walking app of its kind launches to helps adults be more physically active

  • Free ‘Active 10’ app from Public Health England tracks the amount of brisk walking people are doing each day combining intensity and time rather than steps
  • The App will help the 6.3 million adults who do not currently manage a brisk 10 minute walk per month and miss out on numerous health benefits
  • Inactivity contributes to one in six deaths in the UK and is costing the NHS over £0.9 billion per year

Researchers from Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield (pictured L-R Jerry Gao, Chris Ingram, Fabio Ciravegna, Robert Iball, and Tudor Sirbu) have helped to develop a new walking app for Public Health England (PHE).

The free Active 10 app forms part of a physical activity campaign launched today (23 August) to encourage people to build 10 minute brisk walks into their day. The app is the first of its kind to measure how much brisk walking you are doing and highlights how many continuous chunks of ten minutes – know as Active 10s – are achieved each day.

The app encourages people to do at least one Active 10 a day, and users can set their own goals as they build towards meeting the 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, as recommended by the Chief Medical Officer.

Developed in collaboration with The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), the app monitors the speed of walking and – crucially – shows you when a person has walked briskly enough to reap the health benefits.

Regular brisk walking over time can help to reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke and can also improve mental health. After a soft launch in March, the app has already been downloaded by over 50,000 people.

The app aims to address inactivity, which contributes to one in six deaths in the UK and is costing the NHS over £0.9 billion per year. New PHE evidence shows that doing at least one brisk ten minute walk a day reduces the risk of early death by 15%. Getting enough physical activity each week can also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes (by 40%), cardiovascular disease (by 35%), dementia (by 30%) and some cancers (by 20%).

Rob Copeland, Professor of Physical Activity and Health at Sheffield Hallam University and Director of NCSEM Sheffield, said:

“The free app combines walking intensity and time, rather than just distance or steps and is the first free app to do so. It’s simple to use and incorporates behaviour change principles to help make brisk walking a daily habit.
“It also helps people gradually introduce more activity into their routine with goal setting advice and motivational tips, and it is great to see that 50,000 people have already downloaded it.”

Professor Fabio Ciravegna, Lead developer and tracking technology designer, Department of Computer Science at The University of Sheffield said:

“Most similar apps on the market are designed to support exercise. Many of us are not used to exercise and are put off. Active 10 is designed to add ten minutes of healthy walking into our normal daily activities, like shopping or commuting. We hope it will help inspire lots of adults to up their pace for at least ten minutes a day. The technical challenge for us when developing the app was to create a solution able to work on a wide range of phones and to capture different types of walking patterns.”

We hope the app will help inspire lots of adults to up their pace for at least ten minutes a day. The technical challenge for us when developing the app was to create a solution able to work on a wide range of phones and to capture different types of walking patterns.”

Prof. fabio ciravegna, lead developer, dept. computer science

Sheila Mitchell, Marketing Director at Public Health England, said:
“The Active 10 app differentiates itself from other walking products on the market by focusing on intensity and time. It has been designed for, and tested with, those who are doing very little, or no physical activity at all, and who are unfamiliar with many of the fitness apps on the market. It is perfect for the people we’re trying to support, who are not able to fit high levels of exercise into their busy lives, and may be resistant to apps that push you to achieve too much too soon.”

The Active 10 app has been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). GPs across the country are recommending it to their own patients as a tool to help them manage existing conditions and prevent the negative health impact of inactivity.

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 ten minute bursts of brisk walking into your daily routine.

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Notes to editors

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

​For further information, please visit: www.sheffield.ac.uk

For further information about the One You Physical Activity campaign, please contact PHE:
Laurel Eveleigh / laurel.eveleigh@freuds.com / 07912 515 997
Dominique Lemon / dominique.lemon@phe.gov.uk / 020 765 48034

People are encouraged to download the free Active 10 app which shows how much brisk walking they are currently doing and which provides tips and encouragement on how people can fit ten minute bursts of brisk walking into their day. People can also find further hints and tips on the One You website: www.nhs.uk/oneyou
People can download the Active 10 app from the iTunes app store (for iOS), Google Play store (for Android)
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.

Active 10 is part of One You. Launched in March 2016, One You from Public Health England is the first nationwide programme to support adults in making simple changes that can have a huge influence on their health, could help prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease and reduce risk of suffering a stroke or living with dementia, disability and frailty in later life. It aims to inform, energise and engage millions of adults, especially those in the 40-60 ‘middle aged’ group, to make changes to improve their own health by eating well, moving more, drinking less and quitting smoking. One You also provides information on free health checks and how people can reduce their stress levels and sleep better.

Calculation of population figure
% not walking briskly*
Population estimates mid-2016 (million)**
Persons
41.3%
6.32

Source:
* 10 minutes brisk walking each day in mid-life for health benefits and achievement of recommended activity levels evidence paper
** ONS mid year population estimates, mid-2016 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/datasets/populationestimatesforukenglandandwalesscotlandandnorthernireland