In November 2012 the UK public health body the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which develops clinical guidelines for the NHS, released guidelines putting cycling and walking at the centre of efforts to improve the nation’s health, saying they should become the norm for short journeys and should be encouraged throughout local communities.
The guidelines outline the role physical activity can play in improving health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with NICE saying that “local authorities, schools and workplaces should introduce ways to enable their communities to be more physically active and change their behaviours.”
According to NICE, the benefits of regular physical exercise include cutting the risk of conditions including stroke, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease by as much as 50 per cent.
However, nearly two thirds of men (61 per cent) and almost three quarters of women (71 per cent) aged 16+ do not get enough exercise.
It’s a similar picture among children, where only half of boys and one third of girls aged 2 to 10 years meeting recommended daily level of physical activity.
That lack of physical exercise is leading to an obesity epidemic which NICE likens the threat to that posed by smoking, which in turn will lead to a deterioration in the nation’s health as well as placing further strain on healthcare resources.
The Guidelines recommend coordinated action to identify and address the barriers that may be discouraging people from walking and cycling more often or at all, including:
The guidelines and background information are available on the NICE website.