Poll: Are online shopping and over-reliance on cars to blame for making Suffolk less active?
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Overreliance on cars and the likes of online shopping have left many people in Suffolk so inactive that it is damaging their health, it was warned last night.
It is estimated one in five people in the county do not even go out for a 10-minute walk once a week.
The figure has now prompted health chiefs to launch a campaign which urges people to walk any journey of 20 minutes or less.
Richard Crick, healthy lifestyle services manager at Live Well Suffolk, said: “While people often complain that driving is expensive, people will always have a preference for using their cars even for small journeys.
“I think we can encourage more people to walk down to their local shop five or 10 minutes’ away rather than taking their car.
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“You can also get off your bus one or two stops early and walk from there and no parking areas for half-a-mile around schools and having car parks the cheaper the further you go from the town centre would encourage more walking.”
He added: “Everything developed nowadays is predominantly labour-saving devices. With online shopping, you don’t have to go down to the local supermarket, and with mobile phones we don’t even have to walk over to our landlines now.
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“All these little things save us time and effort, but they don’t always encourage us to take up healthy behaviours.
“The cost of inactivity to Suffolk is around £14.1 million. It is a huge cost and people have got to take more ownership of, and responsibility for, their health.”
Suffolk County Council’s Suffolk Walking Strategy, which has consulted with health and walking groups for around three months, could be launched in May.
A draft report states walking should be seen as the “default option for journeys of 20 minutes or less”.
John Clough, director of Suffolk Sport, said: “Generally in Suffolk, people are not achieving the required amount of physical activity.
“At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week is the target and a lot of people don’t achieve that.
“In the past, for shorter journeys, most people would naturally think about walking. Now, a lot of people just think about getting in the car. A lot of those journeys could be done on foot or by bicycle but getting in the car is the default setting.
“Hopefully people will now change their habits slightly. In a 20-minute walk, most people could probably walk a mile, which is not unreasonable.”
The latest government research also shows that four out of 10 people in Suffolk do not meet recommended levels of physical activity while only 42% go out for a 10-minute walk five times a week.
Karina Coghlin, festival co-ordinator of the Suffolk Walking Festival, which is running more than 90 guided walks from May 9-31, said: “The idea for the festival was to inspire people to walk and get people in the countryside; the whole principle of it falls in line with the new strategy.
“Walking has many physical and mental health benefits and is socially beneficial. It might seem daunting to those not used to it…but there are lots of guided walks and leaflets about them in tourist information centres.”