The research, carried out at the University of Bath, found that a regular walking routine can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome to low from moderate.
Metabolic syndrome is a medical term combining risk factors such as high blood pressure and blood sugar and a large waist circumference. It can result in heart disease, stroke and cancer and affects one in four Britons.
Professor Conrad Earnest at the University's Department for Health, said that the study analysed the fitness levels of over 38,000 men and women from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, categorising them into low fitness - equivalent to a sedentary lifestyle, moderate fitness - the same as most public health guidelines and a high level of fitness.
It was found that the prevalence of metabolic syndrome was much lower amongst people in the moderate fitness category than those in the low one.
According to Earnest, the research showed that the simple improvement in fitness levels from low to moderate could result in a sharp reduction in risk of metabolic syndrome. In addition, it showed that in order to fit into the moderate fitness category people just need to take up simple exercise or activity for half an hour between three and five times weekly, in line with guidelines, he added, which 'means that pretty much anyone' can do that and reduce the risk.