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The Miracle Pill

You know going for a walk is good for your physical and mental health. The Government know this too, here’s a paper from 2017  That was a time before the Government were rolling back on active travel, being critical of low traffic neighbourhoods and began talking about a war on cars!

I’ve been reading ‘The Miracle Pill’ by Peter Walker. It’s well written, by a journalist who actually reports on Parliamentary matters, and readable. It’s brilliant. You know it all, but in this book, he signposts the evidence and the cost of continuing as we are. Here are some quotes from the book.

  • “Globally 5.3 million people die per year due to inactive living (that's the population of Scotland)”. It's more than are killed by wars and more than are killed by tobacco. In the UK it's around 100,000 thousand people a year, which is more than 270 people a day.”

  • “20% of all journeys of less than a mile are taken in motorcars”

  • “28% of English children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese”.

  • “A 3rd of men and more than 40% of women in the UK fail to meet the minimum recommended level of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. For children the picture is worse; fewer than 25% of children in England reach their required minimum of an hour a day of moderate to vigorous activity, whilst 4 out of 5 adolescents worldwide are not sufficiently mobile”.

  • “In 1971 58% of school children aged 9 or younger in Sydney would walk to school with 23% driven. 30 years later the figure was 26% walking and 67% using cars. In the UK 70% of parents who drive their primary age children to school say that danger from cars is the main reason they do it”

  • “Air pollution; much of it from motor vehicles, is responsible for around 40,000 deaths a year in the UK”.

In another news story this week it was suggested that the retirement age will need to go up to 71. We know the proportion of the population in the economically active working age group is shrinking as a proportion of population, therefore we will have to work longer. What comes as a shock though is just how much longer. It is 71 because of the high proportion of working people who are unfit to work so will need supporting (we also need to be better at collecting tax from the wealthy and profitable).

The British Medical Association says “Preventable ill-health accounts for an estimated 50% of all GP appointments, 64% of outpatient appointments and 70% of all inpatient bed days. Moreover, it is estimated that 40% of the uptake of health services in England may be preventable through action on smoking, drinking alcohol, physical inactivity and poor diet”.

So, never underestimate the work we do as Outdoor Leaders; everybody needs to walk (climb, bike, paddle, cave etc) more NOW. Read ‘The Miracle Pill’. Campaign to support anything that helps us reduce our car dependency. Even come up with tricks like parking further away from, then walking, to a destination. Swap drives with a neighbour half a mile away, we need to do something to save the NHS; money alone won’t fix it, we need to be preventative. Can it really be that Government ministers profit so much from oil, construction, healthcare etc. that they won’t improve our walking and cycling infrastructure or invest in workable public transport solutions? They seem to want to follow ‘the mob’ rather than lead on climate, health and transport and it’s not good enough.

Never underestimate our advocacy. Write to your MP/MS now and let me know at what point we break and start to join public protests…

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