Walking Works

Rowan Walker, writing for the Guardian:

At a recent TED lecture, the author Nilofer Merchant said sitting is the “new smoking of our generation”. The phrase has been picked up by public health academics and experts, who warn of a worldwide pandemic of inactivity. Even going to the gym in the evening isn’t enough to offset nine hours of sitting still in the office, according to studies. Walking needs to be part of everyday life – your commute to work, your journey home, your visit to the shops, your lunch break, and even the way you work.


Perhaps the importance of combating our desire to sit still is spreading: estate agents in part of the US and Canada are starting to market homes according to their “walkability” rating. That is a measure of just how many places (pub, shops, post box, cinema, schools, offices and so on) you can reach by foot from your home. My home – in Finsbury Park, north London – is a “walker’s paradise”, according to the website It makes sense. My surrounding streets are close together, with plenty of corners to bump into someone for a chat. If you head out to the countryside your walkscore goes down, because it’s harder to cope without a car. People who live in walkable neighbourhoods are not only healthier and happier, but also 6–10lb (2.7–4.5kg) lighter, says Walkscore.

As I’ve mentioned many times, the best exercise is the activity that comes from living your daily life. It’s integrated and doesn’t need any special accommodation or scheduling. It’s easy to skip an evening workout after a particularly trying day but it’s a lot harder to skip your walk home (although I suppose you could call a taxi).

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