People need to enjoy all that Scotland has to offer, the Ramblers said

People need to enjoy all that Scotland has to offer, the Ramblers said

Walking and cycling are the key to improving the nation’s health, Ramblers Scotland said.

The walking charity was responding to a series of reports in The Lancet that said Briton’s are some of the least active in Europe, and lack of exercise is just as bad for health as smoking.

The Lancet reports were published in the run-up to the London Olympic Games, which will see the world’s top athletes perform on the screens of a nation of couch potatoes.

Experts advise five 30-minute sessions of moderate activity, such as brisk walking each week, or three 20-minute periods of vigorous activity.

Two-thirds of Britain’s population do not meet those targets.

Ramblers Scotland Games legacy adviser Jeannie Cranfield said: “We must use these Lancet reports to help change attitudes to physical activity throughout Scotland, from Shetland to Stranraer.

“We have the opportunity to become a world leader in demonstrating that this can be achieved through delivering a physical activity legacy from the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

“With the Lancet reports now telling us that lack of physical activity is as bad as smoking, we must respond and get onto our feet and get active.”

She said Britons must make up for lost time. “The Olympic Games will soon showcase the very best in sport,” Ms Cranfield said. “But the creation of a wider legacy of physical activity benefits across Britain that it was claimed the Olympics would achieve is looking less likely.

“However, Scotland still has an opportunity to make massive progress. We should build on the momentum of the Olympic Games to ensure that the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games set the world standard for delivering physical activity benefits from major sporting events.

“With only 39 per cent of the Scottish population meeting even the minimum recommended levels of physical activity, today’s report in The Lancet is a wake-up call to all of us to demonstrate what can be done and how far we have to go.”

She said Ramblers Scotland believed that by increasing individual daily levels of physical activity, through walking and cycling for everyday journeys and for pleasure, the games’ legacy can be achieved.

“We need to motivate people to get up from their desks and walk about, get outside over their lunch break, get off the bus a few stops early, park the car 30 minutes’ walk away from the office and get the bike out of the garage.

“At Ramblers Scotland we are already working to inspire less active people to be more active and to enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

“We are shortly to launch our Take 30 website, funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery, which is based on the UK Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation that we should all aim to take 30 minutes of activity five times a week.

“The website is aimed at GPs and gives guidance on how to encourage their patients to get active. It is endorsed by Dr Andrew Murray, the Scottish Government’s physical activity champion, and includes a 12-week individual walk programme to help anyone, wherever they live, to get active.

“We are also working with Scottish Government agencies, Scottish Natural Heritage and sportscotland, on a new phase of our work which will get more people into the outdoors to take up walking and a whole range of other activities to help keep them fit and healthy.

“As people are inspired to be more active and enjoy all that Scotland has to offer, we are aiming for a massive expansion in our group structure.

“Our 54 groups across Scotland already provide great opportunities for people to get out walking and make new friends. We aim to build on this to help make Scotland one of the fittest nations on the planet.”

South of the border, Simon Barnett, Ramblers director of walking programmes and promotions added: “These statistics are alarming but the good news is that there is a very simple and easy way for people to start turning these results around and that is to start walking.

“We have seen first-hand what a difference it can make to people’s lives and want to help as many people as possible to make a start so they can soon start to experience the vast health benefits of walking.”

“Through various walking programmes, the Ramblers have put building blocks in place to help people move from short, easy walks to longer more challenging walks, to help people climb from the sofa to the summit.

“The most important thing to do is to take that first step towards a healthy, active lifestyle and get walking.”

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