Health guidelines issued by the government need to be modified to ensure the health and fitness levels of Britons are improved, it has been claimed.
Research conducted by scientists at the University of Exeter and Brunel University suggests that current rules need to be reassessed in order to reduce the burden of obesity, type two diabetes and heart disease on society.
At present, the Department of Health recommends that Britons partake in 30 minutes of moderate exercise - which can include activities such as walking, housework or gardening - a total of five times a week in order to remain healthy.
As a result, 56 per cent of men and 71 per cent of women are now of the belief that walking a few times a week is enough for them to keep in good shape and steer clear of health problems.
However, the researchers found that "maximal protection from disease" is only attainable through vigorous exercise such as jogging and running.
"Time and time again, the largest and most robust studies have shown that vigorously active individuals live longer and enjoy a better quality of life than moderately active individuals and couch potatoes," the study's lead author, Dr Gary O'Donovan, commented.
"It's extremely worrying that British adults now believe that a brief stroll and a bit of gardening is enough to make them fit and healthy.
"The challenge now is to amend Britain's physical activity guidelines so that they emphasise the role vigorous activity plays in fighting obesity, type two diabetes, and heart disease," he concluded.
Independent advice on private healthcare