In this guest blog, Tanya Braun from Living Streets tells us all about National Walking Month.
"National Walking Month is run by us, Living Streets the UK charity for everyday walking, each May. We want to see more of us take to two feet to improve our health, reduce congestion and pollution and help make our streets nicer places to be in."
For a whole month this May we’re asking you to Try20 – that’s walk for at least 20 minutes each day. We think that small steps like this can make a big difference to our everyday lives. This is especially important at a time when over a third of us are classed as overweight or obese, we are putting our roads under increased pressure and thousands are dying prematurely every year from air pollution caused by the way we get around.
We can all benefit from walking more. We’re not saying that all of us should walk distances that would take hours – unless you have a few hours spare and enjoy it! However, we do think that for short journeys, more of us walking would really benefit our whole nation. Walking a mile should take around 20 minutes and research has shown that regularly taking to two feet for this short time alone can help to prolong our lives and keep us healthier. We also know that walking helps to lower the risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and depression. It can also help to reduce the affects of acute diseases such stress and obesity.
However, the benefits aren’t just for us as individuals. The more of us walking, the more our community will benefit, and our nation too.
The more of us using our feet, the fewer cars on our already very congested roads. In just a decade, populations of our major towns and cities are due to increase, placing an unmanageable demand on our already over-stretched transport networks.
We need to think further into the future: about how we are going to support a continued growth in population and how we can make this sustainable while also tackling big issues like climate change.
During National Walking Month, we run a five day challenge with schools all over the country encouraging them to walk to school. This year Walk to School Week will run 16 – 20 May and more than 14,000 classrooms are due to take part. That’s over 400,000 primary school children. Today just 46 per cent of primary age children walk to school, compared with 70 per cent of their parents’ generation. We want to reverse this decline in the walk to school and work all year round encouraging more little feet to take to the streets. We want to instil the habit of walking into the young, so they understand the importance of protecting their health and that of our planet.
At peak times, 23 per cent of road traffic is caused by parents driving their kids to school. It’s no wonder many of us experience congestion at these times. If, like us, you’d like the place you live in to be free of congestion and pollution and encourage health and happiness. Try20 with us this May and see what a big difference small steps really can make.