Although the importance of exercise is often stressed by health experts, studies show that many people do not even engage in enough gentle physical activity in their day-to-day lives. The Department for Transport has revealed that one in seven British adults go a whole month without taking even a 10-minute walk.
The figures show that 86% of adults walk for at least 10 minutes each month for any purpose, while a worrying 14% do not. The numbers vary between England’s regions, with some having an even lower amount of regular walkers. For example, 25% of people in Knowsley fail to walk for 10 minutes per month. Meanwhile, some areas of the country are walking hot-spots, such as Wandsworth where only 5% do not hit this walking quota.
The researchers noted that there are also differences between ethnic groups. The report says: “White British adults as a group walk less for utility purposes than all ethnic minorities, but more for recreational purposes than most ethnic minorities. Walking for recreation is least prevalent among black ethnic groups (39 per cent at least once a month), yet walking for utility purposes is most common among black people (70 per cent at least once a month).”
This difference is perhaps explained by the fact that there are more ethnic minorities in urban areas, and the research showed that walking out of necessity is more common in cities, while walking for pleasure happens more in the country.
The study also demonstrated that time spent walking for utility seems to decline with age, while walking for pleasure seems to increase a little up to the age of 54. There are also marginal gender differences, with women walking slightly more than men, up to the age of 45.
Unsurprisingly, there is an even higher number of people who do not get enough moderate exercise. 46% of British adults surveyed said that they had not engaged in moderate physical activity over the previous month. One in five of the non-walkers were among this 46%, making their overall levels of physical activity worryingly low.
“On the whole, people who did not walk did not compensate by being more physically active in other ways,” the report deduced.
Regardless of age, ethnicity or gender, it is important that everyone engages in enough physical activity to stay healthy, and walks regularly – whether for pleasure or utility.