Walking more 'would save thousands' of lives in the UK

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Tens of thousands of lives could be saved each year in the UK if people got off the sofa and stretched their legs more, say charities.

The "Walking Works" report by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support said walking was a free activity which could transform people's health.

Being physically active decreases the odds of heart problems and stroke.

But it also makes a difference in other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and many cancers.

Last week a British Medical Journal study showed that exercise was as good a medicine as pills for some conditions including heart diseases and another study showed walking at least an hour a day significantly cut the risk of breast cancer.

What is moderate physical activity?

UK chief medical officers recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.

That's enough to make the heart beat faster while still being able to readily have a conversation.

It includes walking, cycling and gardening.

The latest report said that if everyone, in England alone, did the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise every week it would:

  • Save 37,000 lives each year
  • Prevent 6,700 cases of breast cancer
  • Stop 4,700 people getting colorectal cancer
  • Lead to nearly 300,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes.

The two charities run the Walking for Health programme in an attempt to get more people up on their feet.

Benedict Southworth, chief executive of the Ramblers, said: "We're facing a serious crisis of inactivity, but there is a simple solution,

"We need to see greater investment in initiatives which support and promote walking as the most accessible and affordable way for people to get active."

Ciarán Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "For cancer patients, being active can help manage some of the debilitating consequences of treatment and can even help reduce the chance of some cancers returning.

"Inactivity is a nationwide epidemic that must be tackled now before it is too late."

Public Health England said inactivity had "life threatening consequences".

Its director of health and wellbeing Prof Kevin Fenton said: "Inactivity increases the risk of serious illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

"It makes it more likely that people will be overweight or obese. Supporting people to get active through walking can be a major part of the solution."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    At 52 (kid is now able to stay home alone while I walk at 6am...) I do 3-5 power walks of 50 minutes each per week. It's only been 5 weeks, but I feel better and do make an effort to eat less. I hope I drop those 20 kgs like my sister did doing the same thing! Just trying to live longer and healthier. You have to take matters into your own hands at one point. But I do miss late nite TV...

  • rate this

    Comment number 334.

    This effort is promoting walking and not really analysing the reasons why poeple don't do it in the first place. A detailed analysis of this would be more valuable than publishing a bunch of highly speculative statistics on how many people will die sitting on their sofa. The public are less and less impressed with these sort of "do it or die" statistics and are more suceptable to honest advice

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    I'm lost 2.5 stone and it's staying off, gave up car, walk 6 miles to and throw work each day and Sundays is a day of the 4 hour walk sometimes more. Love it now, you have to push yourself out of the lazy ways a lot of us seem to slip into, always making excuses I was, oh it's raining! so what. I walked to Marlborough yesterday,bought 5 bags of shopping at Waitrose and got bus to Swindon hard yeah

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    A couple of years ago I had to give up my car through expensive running costs the first couple of months felt like a struggle walking everywhere. But now my fitness has changed dramaticly walking a few miles seems nothing to me now I think it was a blessing in disguise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    I don't mind walking at all - it's great exercise and lets you enjoy nature etc.

    Unfortunately, my opportunity to walk is from Oxford Street tube station to my office near Tottenham Court Road during rush hour.

    Gentle breeze replaced by bus exhaust.
    Rabbits happily bounding around replaced by angry cyclists.
    Green fields and meadows replaced by uneven pavement, cigarette ends and chewing gum.


Comments 5 of 9


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