Lazy Britons are walking 80miles fewer than just a decade ago, reveals expert
In the late 1990s we each walked around 250 miles, however by 2008 that had dropped to 170milesOnly a minority of
people in England get enough physical activity to improve their health, says obesity expertWarning comes as health watchdog launches new guidelines to 'encourage' people to leave cars at home
08:50 GMT, 28 November 2012
We're becoming a nation of sluggards walking 80 fewer miles a year than just a decade ago, experts have revealed.
The lack of exercise is leaving Britons at risk of dying early from chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer.
Today the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has published new guidance to try and tackle this 'silent epidemic.'
Gridlock: Cars are choking up our towns as more people than even drive even for short trips
The controversial advice includes urging town halls to 'restrain' car use with restrictions and higher fees, thus forcing people to walk.
However, a professor of exercise at Edinburgh University said action did need to be taken as being inactive was the fourth leading cause of premature deaths around the world, and the problem was getting worse.
'In the past decade we have lost about 80 miles per person per year in terms of walking for transport,' she told the Daily Telegraph.
In the late 1990s we each walked around 250 miles, however by 2008 that had dropped to 170miles. At the same time the number of journeys we went by foot rather than by car plunged from 44 per cent in 1975 to 22 per cent today.
Strategic and scientific adviser to the National Obesity Observatory Dr
Harry Rutter, said new guidance was thus essential to try and reverse the trend.
He said: 'Only a minority of
people in England get enough physical activity to improve their health.
'This creates a huge and often invisible burden of illness and reduced
quality of life, but most people seem unaware of that burden.
'Across the population, lack of physical activity causes roughly the same level of ill health that smoking does.
On the hoof: Walking to the shops can save or parking costs and is better for your health, say experts
'We all face barriers in changing our lifestyles and 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
'But walking and cycling to work, to school, to the shops or elsewhere can make a huge difference.
'This guidance aims to help people in local authorities, public health
professionals, schools, workplaces, the NHS and many others to make the
changes that are needed to support this safe, healthy and mostly
enjoyable physical activity.'
Other suggestions to encourage activity include creating special signs showing distances and walking times.
However, some of the guidelines such as raising parking charges have met with strong opposition.
Chief executive of the Tax Payer's Alliance Matthew Sinclair said the 'meddling health bureaucrats' were out of touch with struggling families.
He said: 'Things are tough enough for taxpayers already without meddling health bureaucrats trying to make parking more expensive.
'For more people using the car is a necessity, not a luxury.
'Parking charges damage the high street, place an unnecessary burden on struggling businesses and make life harder for households just trying to make ends meet.
'Nice's boneheaded attempts to interfere demonstrates how out of touch they are with the pressures faced by hard-pressed families.'