People who feel they have little time for going to the gym or joining a sports club should take up walking or cycling instead, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has said.
In new guidance published today (November 28th), NICE said problems like type two diabetes and obesity can be tackled by people looking to walk or ride more on short journeys.
NICE said that walking is the most common activity in Britain, with cycling fourth, but noted the level of walking per person has dropped from 12.9 minutes per day on average in 1996-97 to 11 minutes in 2007. It also revealed just two per cent of journeys are made by bike.
It has said organisations and institutions should actively encourage more of these activities by means of integrating walking routes with public transport links, cycle hire schemes, car-free days and school plans that encourage youngsters to walk instead of taking the bus.
Director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE Professor Mike Kelly said: "We want to encourage and enable people to walk and cycle more and weave these forms of travel into everyday life."
Speaking to Grough, Ramblers chief executive Benedict Southworth remarked: "As Britain's walking charity and the host of Walking for Health, we warmly welcome this excellent and very wise guidance."
For many people, doing a bit of walking will help increase fitness. However, those who find they enjoy a good stroll around town may soon decide they want to do much more.
One way to do this is to buy a pair of walking boots
, some outdoor clothing
and Ordnance Survey maps
before setting off and enjoying the wonders of the British countryside. People may find joining a walking group is a good way of doing this and also expands their social life.
Many of Britain's cities lie close to national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), ensuring many people do not have to travel far from their homes to explore attractive scenery.
For example, the conurbations centred on Manchester and Sheffield lie on either side of the Peak District, Brighton and Hove is on the edge of the South Downs, Plymouth is close to Dartmoor and Glasgow lies within easy reach of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs.
The Gower Coast AONB actually lies within the City of Swansea boundaries.