A short walk? No, let’s take the car

Britons are twice as likely as Americans to hop in the car to travel short journeys they could have otherwise walked, according to new research.

Almost one in five (17 per cent) in the South East admit they frequently drive short journeys that they could easily walk, according to a new report from international healthcare group Bupa.

Britain is ranked joint second with Australia in a list of 13 countries surveyed that opt for the car over walking, just behind New Zealand, where 22 per cent of people frequently drive short distances unnecessarily.

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People in Mexico are the least likely to drive short journeys, at just eight per cent. And perhaps in contrast to commonly held perceptions, only nine per cent of Americans use the car for short hops.

The South East is the third most likely region in Britain to take a stroll rather than hopping in the car, with Londoners most inclined to walking places.

The Bupa Get Walking, Keep Walking report reveals that walking briskly for just an extra 15 minutes a day can extend life expectancy by up to three years, help keep weight in check and reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Yet the report shows a declining trend for walking journeys globally, with people citing barriers to walking including a lack of time as well as boredom.

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Bupa issues the report findings on the same day as Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford showcases a quirky new calorie-busting walk, designed by Bupa’s health experts, to make walking more fun and encourage people to re-consider the health benefits of walking.

The ‘Bupa Brisk Walk’ aims to get the maximum benefit out of walking, burning an average of 350 calories in an hour, more than twice the normal calories expended on a regular stroll.

The walk, which incorporates a leg flick and lunge, also gets the heart rate up to an average of 135 beats per minute, as opposed to the average 100 beats a minute when walking normally.

Dr Tom Crisp, Bupa’s medical expert and a leading sports physician who’s worked with Team GB athletes, says: “People are shunning walking in favour of the car, so we wanted to come up with a way to encourage people to re-consider the health benefits of walking, while also making the act of putting one step in front of the other more fun.

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“Choosing to walk more is one of the easiest lifestyle changes people in the South East can make – whether by changing your commute and getting off the bus a few stops early or by going for a daily walk after your lunch or evening meal. Just a small change can significantly reduce your risk of developing long term health conditions, reduce stress – and benefit the environment.

“Simply putting some ‘oomph’ into the way we walk can really pay dividends. We’re encouraging everyone to build brisk walking into their daily routines – in whatever style they choose.”

To see the new Bupa walks, visit www.youtube.com/bupauk