37,000 lives could be saved each year just by walking

Published on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 13:11
Written by Sinead Fynes Black

Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support launch Walking Works –calling for action to combat physical inactivity

The Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support launch Walking Works, an extensive overview of the mounting research into the life-threatening consequences of inactivity, which concludes that walking is the answer. Supported by Public Health England, this new report demonstrates walking is the solution to getting the nation active, and shows how England's largest network of health walk schemes, Walking for Health, is already changing people's lives.

In the most extensive overview of its kind, the Ramblers and Macmillan have compiled research and evidence that shows why we need to take action now to combat the inactivity epidemic.

The report highlights the severe impacts of inactivity:

  • Physical inactivity tops smoking as one of the nation's biggest health problems and is one of the top four global killers
  • It is responsible for 10.5% of heart disease cases, 13% of type 2 diabetes cases and 17% of premature deaths in the UK
  • Being inactive shortens lifespan by 3–5 years
  • The associated health problems of inactivity in England are costing the economy up to £10 billion a year

If everyone in England did enough walking to meet recommended guidelines¹ it could prevent:

  • 36,815 people dying prematurely
  • 294,730 cases of diabetes
  • 12,061 people going to hospital for emergency coronary heart disease treatment

The report also highlights how physical activity can help prevent certain type of cancers, help manage the consequences of cancer treatment, and even help reduce the chance of some cancers returning.

The Ramblers and Macmillan know walking is the simple solution to getting people active. Walking is a free, low-impact activity that requires no special equipment and almost everyone can do it, wherever they are. The Walking Works report demonstrates that although this solution is simple it can make an enormous difference to the nation's health and wellbeing.

Walking for Health is already at the forefront of getting more people walking. Supporting 600 local schemes across England to organise short, free walks led by friendly, trained walk leaders, they are helping everyone – including those affected by cancer – discover just how good walking can make you feel. With evidence showing that walking is a cost-effective way for local authorities and healthcare providers to increase physical activity, the report highlights the need for continued and further investment in initiatives like Walking for Health to help get the nation active.

Benedict Southworth, Chief Executive of the Ramblers said: "We're facing a serious crisis of inactivity, but there is a simple solution, Walking for Health is already changing people's lives in such a positive way, and it has the potential to change many more. 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: "It is sad that so many lives are put at risk each year due to inactivity. 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. Healthcare professionals need to ensure that they prescribe physical activity, such as walking, as an intrinsic part of a healthy lifestyle."

Source: Macmillan

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