A report by the British Heart Foundation suggests that more than 20 million people in the UK are physically inactive.
The charity raises concerns about inactivity, saying it costs the NHS around £1.2bn each year and vastly increases the risk of heart disease.
The report found that women are 36 per cent more likely than men to be inactive, with 11.8million women meeting the criteria, compared with 8.3 million men.
Within the report, “inactive” is defined as not meeting guidelines set out by the government for physical activity. These are currently set at 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, as well as strength activities on at least two days per week.
The BHF analysis found that the average British man spends the equivalent of 78 days a year sitting, which equates over the span of their life to around a fifth of their time. Women, on the other hand, spend around 74 days a year sitting.
It is believed that, in the UK, almost one in 10 premature deaths from coronary heart disease are caused, or at least contributed to, by inactivity. A lack of physical activity is also believed to contribute to around in six deaths in total.
The British Heart foundation are hoping that people will take up the BHF MyMarathon challenge, which involves running or walking the equivalent of a marathon across a whole month. In the report, it was found that around 76 per cent of people referred for rehabilitation after suffering a heart attack or having heart surgery, could be described as inactive. They warn that more than 5 million deaths worldwide can be attributed to physical inactivity, making it one of the top 10 leading causes of death.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour in the UK remain stubbornly high, and, combined, these two risk factors present a substantial threat to our cardiovascular health and risk of early death.
“Evidence shows keeping physically active can reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by as much as 35 per cent and risk of early death by as much as 30 per cent.” Regional variations were also found to be present in the analysis, with the North West of England having 47 per cent, or 2.7 million adults that are physically inactive.
The South East had the lowest rate with 34 per cent of its adults being classed as inactive.