11 July 2019

The health benefits of walking 

 

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.

 

Paul Dudley White,  American pioneering cardiologist (1886-1973)

 

photo of walkers in countrysideA few months ago, I was asked to write an article about the benefits of walking for this newsletter because I had been leading and organizing North Somerset Green Party rambles for several years.  A combination of laziness, inertia and not knowing what to write stopped me from doing so.

There are numerous articles about the benefits of walking: it reduces the risk of cardio-vascular disease, bowel cancer and improves cognitive function, and improves general health. It is also an antidote to depression. Many other forms of exercise have similar effects but walking is cheap, easy to do and can be carried out by nearly everybody. As this is a Green Party newsletter, I will be concentrating on the environmental benefits.

Walking is highly efficient in its use of urban space and energy, it rarely causes injury and it gives streets vitality and personal security. Many car trips are quite short, less than 2 km, indicating that walking could be a feasible alternative and contribute to reducing the pollution from a cold-start vehicle travelling only a short distance.

    Mason,C. Transport and health: en route to a healthier Australia?

    Medical Journal of Australia  2000; 172:230-232 

Walking more and using the car less is one way we can all help reduce the impact of greenhouse emissions on global warming. Walking instead of driving helps reduce the traffic and the noise levels as well as having positive effects on other aspects of the environment and our personal health and well-being. Diabetes Australia explains this in more detail.

From the point of view of actually leading walks, I feel that personal welfare issues as much as compassion for other people should be almost as much a part of the Green Party remit as well as saving the planet.

I am hoping my NSGP walks serve both to combat loneliness, and to enable people to talk and socialize. I hope they have a cohesive effect and encourage people to get more involved in the Green Party. I also value being able to meet fellow members in a setting where I do not feel obliged to talk "shop". It might also encourage people to include walking in their day-to-day lives.

Peter Waldschmidt


11th July 2019