To get more people walking, make the activity convenient
It’s no secret what we have known for years: daily walking is good for one’s health. This week, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy reiterated that fact with a ‘call to action.’ Surgeon General Murthy says just half of the United States’ adults and over a quarter of high school students get the amount of physical activity recommended for good health.
Certainly people can join gyms to get that much-needed exercise, but that gets pricey. One can get that exercise in the great outdoors, but that can be challenging. Murthy’s ‘call to action’ goes a step further by citing that communities need to offer walking activities. At the moment, much of the U.S. does not offer true activity-friendly communities. Murthy suggest that groups ought to get together to form walkable communities. Indeed it’s a tall order, but a challenge that should be met throughout America. There’s no doubt that many communities are beginning to realize that they need to become more walkable.
Studies have shown that members of the Millennial generation desire to stay out of their cars more and partake in outdoor physical activity along with having amenities near where they live. Oh yes, “millennials” are not so much into owning homes and doing yard-work. Aside from the younger generation, there are scores from other generations who wish to have pedestrian-friendly places to live.
Another challenge to get people to walk is time. Far too many Americans are over-programmed with work and family commitments thus allowing little time for physical activity. Furthermore, many of our jobs are sedentary. Indeed it’s good that more companies are setting up physical challenge activities, but at the end of the day, it’s tough for many of us to get exercise. It’s obvious that if walking opportunities are convenient, then more folks will partake in the activity.
Still, folks need to be inspired to get out and move. One needs to only look at having exercise equipment in the home that sees little use. With fitness trackers and group challenges, one can become inspired to take on physical activity. The key is to mix it all up because the same gym, use of fitness trackers or engaging in challenges can become routine giving people excuses to give up on activity.
We know that the benefits of regular exercise are numerous. Murthy cites a few of those benefits including reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. That risk can be turned around with regular exercise. Research completed last year from Indian University Schools of Public Health and Medicine showed that even inactive males made positive strides in their health by taking five minute walks every hour. The Indiana University study found that the widening of arteries reduced over three hours sitting without moving.
I am sure that many would agree with me by saying that Murthy’s campaign of walking awareness combined with community-friendly physical activity options is far overdue. The next step in this ‘call to action’ process is to make these wishes come true sooner rather than later.