If ever there was a call to seriously reboot our cities and suburbs, this report from The Guardian provides direct evidence that even the simple act of walking for exercise is not being followed by many middle-aged people in Great Britain. There is a direct link between the lack of exercise and several serious health conditions. Quite simply, walking reduces the risk of developing over  41 diseases and boosts the immune system for over 24 hours. But even with this information the British national public health service observed that 41 per cent  of adults aged 40 to 60 years of age “walk less than 10 minutes continuously each month at a brisk pace of at least 3mph.” 
There have been campaigns to encourage folks to get out of their cars and walk to shops and lunch breaks as a way to add years to their life spans. The evidence clearly shows that increased fitness, better moods, weight control and a 15 per cent reduction in premature death can result. While the push has been on to make suburbs and city streets more universally walkable to encourage sociability and physical activity, that message is not getting the middle-aged moving. The advice from the United States Surgeon General is 150 minutes of active walking a week for every American. The British advice is the same, but the findings are that 25 per cent of the population is doing less than 30 minutes of exercise a week-that’s less than five minutes a day. There have been several campaigns in Britain to try to get people walking briskly for ten minutes a day and there is the “Active 10” app which is available free from the National Health Service.
It is becoming clear that health and planning disciplines need close linkages for  walkable, comfortable and convenient links for schools, shops and services. Moving by foot should require no thought and should be the preferred option. How that linkage can be positively reinforced  will be the subject of a webinar from Simon Fraser University’s City Program on Monday, September 10th.  This webinar will be hosting a discussion with  Dr William Bird MBE , founder of Intelligent Health UK who works in the intersection between health and city planning across the globe. Price Tags will be providing further registration details soon.


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