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How walking can help the NHS

More than 20 million UK adults are classified as physically inactive, increasing their risk of heart disease and costing the UK health service as much as £1.2billion each year according to a new report from the British Heart Foundation. This fascinating new report reveals variations on how active people are based on region and gender plus the impact this has on our health and the public purse…

More than 5 million deaths worldwide can be attributed to physical inactivity, making it one of the top 10 leading causes of death.  In the UK alone it causes one in ten premature deaths from coronary heart disease, and one in six deaths overall. Evidence shows keeping physically active can reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by as much as 35% and risk of early death by as much as 30%.

Evidence is growing that also shows a sedentary lifestyle, regardless of how physically active you are, is associated with poor health. Heading to the gym for an hour twice a week just doesn’t cut it. Limiting your time sitting down is absolutely key – which is where a long leisurely stroll can really come into its own. British Heart Foundation estimates show that the average man in the UK spends a fifth of their lifetime sitting - the equivalent of 78 days each year. For women this is around 74 days a year. 
The report shows that more than 20million adults in the UK are failing to meet Government guidelines for physical activity, with regional variations. For the regions in England, the North West comes out worst as almost half of the adult population (47%) – 2.7million adults– are insufficiently active. The South East had the lowest rate at 34%. In Northern Ireland, almost half (46%) of the adult population - that's around 650,000 people - are deemed to be physically inactive. In Wales, 42% of the population, more than one million people are physically inactive. While in Scotland, 37% of the adult population, around 1.6 million people - are physically inactive.
BHF graph
We would encourage everyone to use walking as a key tool in your mission to be more physically active. Be it the daily dog walk, a family outing at the weekend or just a trip on foot to the local shops, every minute of walking is one less minute of sitting… and that will help your own health as well as the NHS purse! Time to get browsing the iFootpath Walking Guide collection for your next walking adventure…
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