"No time for physical activity? The answer's on your doorstep" says NICE
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) who are responsible for developing guidance and quality standards in health and social care, published guidance stating the importance of increasing walking and cycling:
"Walking and cycling should become the norm for short journeys and should be encouraged throughout local communities says NICE, in new guidance published [28 November 2012]. Local authorities, schools and workplaces should introduce ways to enable their communities to be more physically active and change their behaviours.
Regular physical activity is crucial to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It can help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50%, and is also important for good mental health.
At present, we are not active enough as a nation - around two-thirds (61%) of men and nearly three-quarters (71%) of women aged 16 and over are not physically active enough. Just over half of boys aged two to 10 years old and a third of girls in the same age group achieve the recommended level of daily physical activity. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality (accounting for 6% of deaths globally).
Walking is the most common recreational and sporting activity undertaken by adults in Britain, with cycling the fourth most common. The majority (85.8%) of adults claim that they can ride a bicycle, yet the average time spent travelling on foot or by bicycle has decreased; from 12.9 minutes per day in 1995/97 to 11 minutes per day in 2007. Cycle use is lower in Britain than it is in other European Union countries; bicycles are used in around 2% of journeys in Britain compared with about 26% of journeys in the Netherlands, 19% in Denmark and 5% in France.
This is the first time that NICE has published guidance for organisations and institutions, such as schools, workplaces and local authorities that have a responsibility or influence over local communities, to encourage them to promote physical activity specifically through walking and cycling. NICE recommends coordinated action to identify and address the barriers that may be discouraging people from walking and cycling more often or at all."
More information, and supporting evidence in the full report:
• Lake, Alison et al (November 2012) "Walking and cycling: local measures to promote walking and cycling as forms of travel or recreation" Public health guidance, PH41, at:
• More and more information on why it's good to get outdoors, to walk, run, ride or cycle, do it for fun and relaxation, and why experience nature is good for you, on our Evidence for Outdoors Access page.