Walking is the most popular active recreation

Walking is the most popular active recreation

Britain’s biggest walkers’ charity welcomed new official guidelines that say walking and cycling can transform the nation’s health.

The Ramblers pointed out that the latest guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s (Nice) said walking is the simplest way of increasing physical activity.

The campaigning charity backed calls for call for local authorities, voluntary organisations, schools, workplaces and the NHS to work together to encourage and support people to be more physically active.

Nice said about two-thirds of people in England are not physically active enough to meet the official recommendations for good health – with serious and expensive consequences.

Physical inactivity is becoming as significant as smoking as a major cause of ill health. Much of this results from the decline of everyday activities like walking, which has reduced by 20 per cent over the past three decades.

Yet, as the new guidance recognises, walking remains the most popular active recreation by far, and is also the easiest way for most people to incorporate activity into their daily lives.

The Ramblers said walking is free, needs no special equipment or training, is safe and convenient, and something almost everyone can start doing from their doorstep.

It added the Nice guidelines also recognise the many other benefits of walking including combating air pollution, congestion and climate change.

Ramblers chief executive Benedict Southworth said: “As Britain’s walking charity and the host of Walking for Health, we warmly welcome this excellent and very wise guidance.

“If implemented, it will have a hugely positive impact on the nation’s health, happiness and sustainability.

“We’re particularly pleased to read that Nice agrees with our view that walking is the most likely way in which adults will get active enough for good health.

“We’re also delighted that the guidance advocates a more strategic and joined up approach, bringing together the NHS, councils, voluntary groups, employers, educators and others to tackle the major challenge of physical inactivity.

“The changes now taking place in the public health sector create a great opportunity to achieve this, and we look forward to working with local and national partners in the coming years to tackle the urgent task of getting people walking.”

Details of the new guidance are on the Nice website.

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