Lack of physical activity tops smoking as one of the UK’s major health problems, leads to almost 37,000 premature deaths per year and costs the economy £10 billion per year, according to a new report.
Commissioned by MacMillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers, the report is an overview of the research into the life-threatening consequences of inactivity. Not very surprisingly given one of its sponsors, it concludes that walking is the answer, but its findings could just as easily be taken that people should get on their bikes, or that active travel of any sort is a good thing.
According to the report:
Physical inactivity is responsible for 10.5% of heart disease cases; 13% of type 2 diabetes cases; and 17% of premature deaths in the UK.
Being inactive shortens lifespan by 3–5 years
The associated health problems of inactivity in England are costing the economy up to £10 billion a year
The Chief Medical Officer guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. The report, Walking Works, indicates that if everyone did that it could prevent:
36,815 people dying prematurely
294,730 cases of diabetes
12,061 people going to hospital for emergency coronary heart disease treatment
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support said: “It is sad that so many lives are put at risk each year due to inactivity. For cancer patients, being active can help manage some of the debilitating consequences of treatment and can even help reduce the chance of some cancers returning.
“Inactivity is a nationwide epidemic that must be tackled now before it is too late. Healthcare professionals need to ensure that they prescribe physical activity, such as walking, as an intrinsic part of a healthy lifestyle.”
You can read the report and a summary here.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.