Walk to Health

Walk to Health

25 July, 2016
The Best Medicine
Longer lives, better health, just a walk away for cities
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Urban dwellers can go to great lengths to excuse themselves from regular exercise. A lack of time, space, suitable weather, money (gym memberships or yoga lessons) and energy (after a long day at work) are some of the many convenient justifications for modern sloth. One exercise however, can suit the scheduling needs of the contemporary working man and woman – walking. Requiring nothing but legs and a suitable pair of shoes, the activity can be done indoors or out. Most important of all, it’s completely free!
 
Civic Exchange has always advocated that city governments do more to promote walking-friendly environments for the health and wellbeing of its constituents. This begins through better urban planning and transport policies.
 
The health benefits of walking are often underestimated. For those who pound the pavement at least 15 kilometres a week, there is good news in store. Several studies conducted by researchers at Harvard College in the United States have made a strong case for regular walking, especially in terms of cardiovascular health and reduced rates of mortality.
 
One study of 10,269 male graduates for example, found that those who walked 15km a week were linked to a 22 percent lower death rate. Among 44,452 male health professionals surveyed, walking at least 30 minutes a day was linked to an 18 percent lower risk of coronary artery disease. Another study covered 72,488 female nurses and discovered that those who walked more than three hours a week lowered their risk of heart attack or cardiac deaths by 35 percent and the risk of stroke by 34 percent.
 
But in a city like Hong Kong, it’s easy to find reasons not to walk. The temptations of convenient, air-conditioned and affordable public transport lurk on every street corner. Navigating the city’s crowded, polluted and smog-filled – not to mention hot and humid -- streets can make even the shortest stroll an unpleasant experience. Then, too, there are the constant interruptions of footbridges and time-consuming pedestrian crossings. What can be done to improve this situation?
 
As the Greek physician Hippocrates was purported to have said 2,400 years ago, "Walking is a man's best medicine." To learn more about out how walking can do miracles for one’s health and for the health of an urban populace, join the discussion at the 17th international Walk21 Hong Kong conference this October 3-7, the first Walk21 event to be held in Asia. Co-hosted by the Civic Exchange, the Conference will bring together 500 delegates with world-renowned scholars, civil society groups and top officials to discuss how "pedestrian-first" environments can benefit public health. For more details, visit our website at www.walk21hk.com.

By: Courtesy of Civic Exchange
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