Staying fit and active every day can dramatically reduce the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia, but 94 per cent of those questioned did not deem physical fitness as being of prime importance in their lives, according to the survey.
One in 10 said they had not done any real physical exercise in more than a decade, more than a fifth said the last time they were really physically active was at school, college or university and only a quarter said they had been really physically active in the past week, it said.
The survey of 2,000 people found that long hours in the office were the reason 41 per cent gave for not finding time to exercise while childcare was blamed by 33 per cent, the Daily Express reported.
Getting married caused 22 per cent to exercise less while another major reason was a lack of cash, it added.
"If you are physically inactive, you increase the risk of having a heart attack," said Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation which commissioned the survey.
By staying active, you can help prevent and manage a wide variety of health conditions and your heart is a muscle and so benefits from physical activity, she added.