The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance this month (20 October) on delaying or preventing dementia, disability and frailty in older life, and has put walking high up on the health agenda – advice warmly welcomed by Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking. Among NICE’s suggestions are that local governments, transport professionals and town planners should encourage active travel – including walking – for local journeys by improving environments where people live and work, and using new and existing traffic management and highway schemes to make walking and cycling safer and easier.
The NICE guidance backs the work of Living Streets, which aims to create a walking nation through education and campaign initiatives, influencing decision makers and working with local authorities to create streets that are fit for walking. The charity offers a Community Street Audit service to help residents and planners create streets that are safe and well-designed for pedestrians.
Caroline Cooban, Living Streets Director (Midlands) said:
“It is encouraging to see NICE recommending we take a fresh look at our towns and cities, and adapt them to encourage people to walk. Walking eases congested roads, reduces pollution and helps create a healthier nation. We must shape our environments to help people be more active.”
While Living Streets organises events such as Walk to School Week for primary children each May and produces advice to inspire older people to walk too, the NICE guidelines issued today put the focus squarely on encouraging walking in mid-life to prevent dementia, diabetes and frailty as we age.
Caroline Cooban continues: “A lot of us are guilty of spending too long sitting at work, at home and when we travel. Physical inactivity leads to 37,000 premature deaths and costs the economy around £20 billion every year but by walking to work we can easily introduce activity into our day and improve our health both now and as we get older. This one small change in our daily routines can have a huge impact on our lives.”