It all seems so obvious doesn’t it, but still many of us just don’t think in the right way – and still there is money being spent on these surveys and studies! The latest piece of research “reveals” that walking or cycling for 15 to 20 minutes instead of taking the car will “combat the ‘silent epidemic’ of inactivity posing a risk to the health of people”.
This gem was outlined by a study from The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. And now the advisory body is calling on councils to do more to make walking and cycling an easier option, and a more normal activity, in local communities.
Facetiousness aside, though, it’s good news that NICE are getting behind a campaign to get more people walking and cycling for improved health. Indeed, we’re likely to hear a lot more from NICE in the coming years. For this advisory body is set to be given a new responsibility for public health, which the NHS will hand over next year under the government's reform programme.
In fact, NICE reckons that councils should be investigating the introduction of bicycle-hire schemes, car-free events and better cycle-route signalling and maps. We couldn’t agree more…
Other ways to encourage walking and cycling
* Walking routes that are highlighted and signposted with distance and the time it takes to walk to local destinations.
* More schools and workplaces encouraging pupils and staff to cycle and walk.
* 20mph speed limits in local areas.
The cost of inactivity
A recent report in the Lancet said inactivity is now causing as many deaths as smoking in the UK. The figures revealed that six in 10 men and seven in 10 women are not taking part in even the minimum recommended levels of physical activity. The stats are little better for children.
Prof Mike Kelly, of NICE, is reported as saying: "As a nation, we are not physically active enough and this can contribute to a wide range of health problems."
What do you think? How can more people be encouraged to walk and cycle? Maybe workers should be given an extra week's holiday per year, or a couple of days per month, for a walking or cycling holiday?!