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Relying on cars instead of walking is damaging our health

Published on 28/11/2012

Only a minority of people in England get enough exercise according to experts, with too many of us relying on cars to cover short distances instead of walking or cycling.

Too many of us are relying on cars to travel short distances

The Department of Health recommends that adults do a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. This half-hour could be done in one go or made up of three ten minute bursts spread throughout the day.

Whilst the activity can be a “lifestyle” activity like walking to the shops, it has to be at enough of an intensity to make you slightly breathless or warm.

But public health experts for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) say that our habit of driving short distances could be putting our lives at risk.

According to Nanetter Mutrie, professor of exercise and sports psychology at Edinburgh University, being inactive is the fourth leading cause of premature death worldwide.

And surveys show that people are making fewer walking journeys than ever before. Since 1975 they proportion of journeys taken by foot has halved from 44 per cent to 22 per cent. Whilst we achieved around 250 miles of walking journeys in the late 1990s, by 2008 this had dropped to 170.

Now, a fifth of all car journeys cover a mile or less.

At the same time, another study published in the Lancet Journal has shown that exercise can be more effective at reducing the chances of dying prematurely than being unfit and taking statins.

Researchers compared fitness levels in 10,000 middle aged people all of whom had high cholesterol levels. They found that the fittest people who were not taking statins were 50 per cent less likely to die over the next ten years than the least fir who were on the drugs.

Dr Harry Rutter, of the National Obesity Observatory, said: “Many of us feel we don't have the time or the inclination to add regular physical activity into our lives - it can be very difficult to break old habits and change behaviour.

"But walking and cycling to work, to school, to the shops or elsewhere can make a huge difference."

Many private health insurance policies offer discounted gym memberships to their customers to encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle, and others reward their healthy members with lower premiums. Compare health insurance with us now for more information.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Health
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