Policy & Influence

Why Walking? The case for change

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People are walking more

More people are walking, as you can see from the below image (the number shows the change over the years). However, each year we make around 250 million car journeys that are shorter than one kilometre – the equivalent of a 15-minute walk or a five-minute bike ride.

Image shows that there are an additional 74,600 people walking in Greater Manchester over the last two years according to Active lives survey.

People want to walk more

The Made to Move report highlights that eight out of ten residents – equivalent to 2.2 million people across GM – want cycling and walking to be safer. In fact, over two thirds of people would walk and cycle more if they felt safer.

Walking is accessible

Walking is accessible with only 4% of people either needing help when walking outside the home or are unable to walk on their own at all.

We also want to create environments and opportunities that support wheelchair access and individuals with low mobility to move more.

Walking can have the biggest impact on population level activity

“Brisk walking has the greatest potential for increasing the overall activity levels of a sedentary population and is most likely to be adopted by a range of ages, socioeconomic and ethnic groups.” Hillsdon and Thorogood

Walking counts!

It is sometimes thought that walking is not vigorous enough to lead to health benefits compared to activities such as running.

Kelly et al. demonstrated that there are 5.5 million people in England whose fitness levels are so low that they would find walking at 3 mph a vigorous activity. In Greater Manchester this would be approximately 283,000 people (25-64 years) whose fitness would significantly improve by walking at 3mph.

What do we mean by walking?

  • Walking for leisure in a formal walking group, as an individual or informally with a friend(s)
  • Build walking into everyday routines such as a lunchtime walk at work or a ‘daily mile’
  • Functional walking, such as when going shopping
  • Active travel – walking to get from A to B i.e. walking to work or school.

Walking is accessible to almost all of the population, with only 4% of people either needing help when walking outside the home or are unable to walk on their own at all. This makes it a simple way to help reduce health care costs caused by physical inactivity and improve the overall health and wellbeing of our residents.

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