The average Brit considers anything more than a 30 minute walk to be ‘too far’ to do on foot, according to research.
A study of 2,000 adults found four in 10 are not willing to walk more than a mile to get somewhere, opting for an alternative form of transport instead.
Three quarters have been put off walking simply because it was raining, while temperatures below five degrees Celsius will see the average adult hop in a car instead.
Similarly, four in 10 are more likely to take a lift rather than climb just one flight of stairs – with four flights being the most the average adult would tackle.
Animal charity SPANA carried out the research ahead of International Working Animal Day (15 June) to raise awareness of the hard journeys working animals around the world face every day, walking long distances while carrying backbreaking loads.
Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of SPANA, which provides free veterinary treatment to working animals in developing countries, said: “In Britain, we’re lucky that we can usually choose how much, or how little, we walk.
“If the weather is bad or we’re feeling tired, most people can jump in the car or on the bus to get where they need to be.
“But it’s a very different story for many working animals overseas.
“These horses, donkeys and camels have to walk many miles every day, transporting heavy loads in difficult terrain and sweltering heat.
“During these tough journeys, animals often have little shelter, water or rest, while lameness and painful wounds are common.”
The survey found three quarters of British people feel they ought to do more walking than they currently do.
However, when asked how far they were willing to walk before taking another mode of transport, the average figure given was 31 minutes.
Some of the top reasons for people staying off their feet include finding walking boring, having an injury or disability that stops them being mobile, or being just plain lazy.
And a fifth of respondents believe they simply don’t have the time to walk, and have to drive to make the most of the hours in their day.
Many health experts, including the NHS, suggest 10,000 steps per day is an ideal amount to walk – the equivalent of about five miles.
However, Brits estimate their own average daily footfall at just 5,836 steps – a little over half of what they should be doing for optimum fitness.
In comparison, they spend more than 16-and-a-half hours a week sitting on their sofa – more than two hours per day.
It also emerged that rather than nip out to the shops, a fifth of adults have sent their children out to pick up some milk, and seven in 10 say they wouldn’t be able to run a mile without getting out of breath.
And those polled are likely to jump into their car or take public transport to a destination they could easily walk to an average of 13 times a month.
Just under six in 10 people admit there are weeks where they hardly walk at all, and for 15 per cent of the population, this is the case “most weeks”.
A huge 88 per cent of respondents also believe that, as a nation, the British walk less than they have ever done before.
Geoffrey Dennis added: “It seems people in Britain today are walking far less than in past generations.
“Busy lifestyles and the fact that the majority of households now own a car are just some of the factors behind this.
“But, when it comes to walking, it’s clear we generally have a choice – and many people like to walk for fitness or pleasure.
“Working animals in developing countries – and the owners who walk beside them – don’t have that luxury.
“These animals are relied upon to do the jobs of trucks, tractors and taxis, and through their relentless steps they make it possible for millions of the world’s poorest families to earn a small income.
“Yet, despite their vital role and the often gruelling journeys they make, the sad fact is that very few working animals have access to veterinary treatment when they are sick or injured.
“That’s where SPANA comes in – preventing suffering by providing vital vet care, as well as educating communities in how to better look after their animals.
“Please show your support for these hardworking animals on International Working Animal Day and visit www.spana.org/iwad.”