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Is more cycling and walking Wokingham’s miracle pill?

Cycling
Cycling Picture: renategranade0 from Pixabay

Wokingham Active Travel Community Hub (WATCH) aims to boost greener transport. Adrian Betteridge writes…

WATCH Wokingham

It’s widely recognised these days how more walking and cycling could slow climate change and improve air quality.

Surveys show that a majority like the idea of walking or cycling more but, in our busy lives, don’t manage to do so for the greater good. The ‘what’s in it for me?’ question also matters.

This question may be answered in a new book by UK journalist Peter Walker, which looks at the importance of a minimum level of activity to our health.

Most of us expend a lot less energy in our everyday lives than we our evolution anticipated. More office jobs, personal transport, better domestic aids and many other labour-saving inventions all play their part.

The link between activity levels and health was first observed in the 1940s. It seems that at any given activity level and at any age, on average, health outcomes improve as we become more active.

More recently, researchers identified how inactivity causes illness and quantified the level below which this becomes a real concern.

This minimum level for most adults is150 minutes of moderate activity (brisk walking, DIY chores or similar) a week.

We observe the benefits in reduced rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and many conditions. Inactivity is a factor in one-in-six deaths a year, affects quality of life for many more and has a huge societal cost.

Few of us are lucky enough to have 150 minutes spare in any week, but maybe could fit this activity into our everyday lives?

We’re not suggesting anyone gives up their washing machine but, for those who travel locally, choosing to walk or cycle more would give us a direct and personal benefit, as well as doing our bit for the environment.

Peter Walker’s book, The Miracle Pill, suggests how we might describe a medication that improved health outcomes on an equivalent scale.

Creating the conditions for more of us to choose walking and cycling in Wokingham may be just the miracle pill our politicians are looking for in these challenging times?

You can find more from WATCH at facebook.com/watchwokingham

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