A third of the UK are turning to free exercise activities to boost health, PruHealth research has shown.
The insurer's Fitbug pedometer found that 27% were focusing on free forms of exercise such as walking and running compared to just 14% in 2008.
But while walking is popular in summer it tails off in autumn and winter; the average number of daily steps taken by adults in winter 2011 was 8845 compared to 9479 in the summer.
Dr Katie Tryon, head of clinical Vitality at PruHealth, said: "The health benefits of walking span across several different areas of our wellbeing including physical, mental and social wellbeing.
"Thirty minutes of brisk walking each day can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, maintain a healthy weight, improve self-esteem, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as being an activity that can be enjoyed on your own or with others."
PruHealth said its studies showed members who monitored their walking were a third less likely to claim on health insurance.
PruHealth and the National Trust have joined up to launch the Great British Walk with a series of events and trails taking place across the UK until 4 November.