Walking for Health (an organisation of which I obviously approve) have released Walking Works, a report bringing together all the latest research into the problem of physical inactivity and the benefits of walking as a solution to this.
Central to the report are all the many benefits that getting active can bring. It reduces the risk of several serious diseases, from heart disease to Alzheimer's. It improves quality of life in many ways, helping you maintain a healthy weight, reducing blood pressure, building health muscles and bones....I could go on, but then I think it would be more sensible for you to read the report yourself!
Shockingly, the report also says that around a third of adults in England aren't even doing 30 minutes of physical activity a week. Now that really is scary. Even before I took up walking seriously, I'm pretty sure I did more than 30 minutes of activity a week. It just goes to show that there really is some serious work to do to help people get more active.
I couldn't agree more with the report's glowing recommendation of walking. Almost everyone can walk - in fact, only 4% of us need help to walk outside our homes or can't walk at all according to the research. I know from my own experience of trying for years to get active and failing, that one of the keys to success is finding an exercise you feel comfortable doing and undaunted by. Walking fits the bill in that respect incredibly well.
Working walking into your life doesn't have to be a chore, and it's great to hear more people shouting about it, as I often feel that this blindingly obvious solution is getting overlooked. You don't need any equipment, you don't need anything except some good shoes (and maybe an umbrella or a waterproof!) and then you're off. It's also pretty safe as long as you're sensible and don't go running out in front of cars - this sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised what I've seen on my walks to and from work!
The report is, obviously, a big advocate of Walking for Health, which runs walks for people to join for free around England. I understand the appeal of this for some - if you've not done much/any walking before, don't know your area well, or simply want to meet people, then it seems like a pretty good idea to me. Personally I like to walk alone, or maybe with The Boy or my parents at a push (for a start, they can keep up with me), but I know not everyone would feel comfortable doing that. Plus, having a group of people to encourage you can't hurt, right?
I'm just glad that the report seems to have been so widely picked up - I saw it everywhere last week and it seems to have had some traction with health professionals too. I even saw it mentioned on The One Show (this is where I have to admit that, yes, I have on occasion seen bits of The One Show).
I know that lots of the lovely people who read my blog also enjoy a good walk, so come on guys, let's make some noise about how brilliant walking is. We've got a report that tells us Walking Works, so let's make sure everyone hears the message!