Stagnant Brits struggle to walk more than a mile a day according to new research from Cancer Research UK’s Walk All Over Cancer campaign published today.
On an average weekday more than half (52%) of UK adults walk a mile or less* and almost a fifth (17%) walk less than a quarter of a mile.
Around a third (32%) of adults said a lack of time puts them off walking more while a quarter (25%) are deterred by bad weather.
Being more active can have many health benefits, including reducing cancer risk. Regularly doing exercise that gets you warm and slightly out of breath, like brisk walking, could help prevent around 3,400 cases of cancer in the UK each year.**
In addition, moving more can help people maintain a healthy weight, which also reduces the risk of cancer. Being overweight or obese is the single biggest cause of preventable cancer in the UK after smoking and is linked to 13 types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreatic***.
To motivate people to get walking, Cancer Research UK has set up a ‘Step Up Stop’ at King’s Cross station to encourage commuters to lace up their trainers and sign up to Walk All Over Cancer, 10,000 steps a day challenge this June.
Katie Edmunds, Cancer Research UK health information officer, said: “These are worrying figures, as we know that being regularly physically active can have a host of health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer.
“While our frenzied lifestyles can make it tough for people to find time to keep active, any level of exercise is better than none, so building some moderate activity into your daily routine can really make a difference.
“For many people a spot of brisk walking is the easiest way to do this which is why signing up to our Walk All Over Cancer campaign is a great way to kick start a big difference to your physical health and wellbeing.
“As well as causing mood-lifting chemical changes in the brain, you’ll enjoy a sense of achievement from taking on a new challenge and the satisfaction of knowing you are doing your bit to help bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”
Money raised from ‘Walk All Over Cancer’ will fund Cancer Research UK’s ground-breaking research into more than 200 types of cancer.
Based on the average person’s stride 10,000 steps is around five miles or eight kilometres. By the end of the month walkers will have covered 150 miles which is about the distance from London to Manchester.
Nikki Gilmour, 47, of York first took part in Walk All Over Cancer in March 2017 when she was recovering from treatment for a brain tumour and a stroke.
The mum of one said: “It had been such a horrendous time. I’d had brain surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I’d been told my cancer was life limiting and the stroke meant any kind of movement was difficult for me. I’d gone from doing Latin dancing to barely being able to walk round the block. I gave away my stilettos and bought some hideous elasticated old lady shoes. I lost my hair and the steroids caused me to put on five stone in weight.
“On the second day of my treatment I got a dog – a fluffy pug called Betty. She was fantastic, she really made me laugh, and she meant that I had to get myself out of the house and go for a walk. I found out about Walk All Over Cancer on Facebook on the same day that I had the results of a follow up scan, which showed the little bit of tumour that was left in my brain had responded better to the treatment than expected. So I thought – ‘Right I’m going to do that. That’s my goal. I’m going to get my strength up and do it’.
“Doing the challenge helped me to feel like I’d really turned a corner and had a new focus. I started investing in myself again. I lost weight and bought new clothes. I even got some of my stilettoes back from friends. Walking is such a great way to look after yourself, get outside and focus on the positives. That’s why I’m signing up again to take part with Betty this June.”
To sign up visit www.cruk.org/walkallover
* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,198 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd – 5th May 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+)
** Parkin, M., et al., The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010. BJC 2011.
*** Lauby-Secretan B, Scoccianti C, Loomis D, Grosse Y, Bianchini F, Straif K. Body fatness and cancer — viewpoint of the IARC Working Group. N Engl J Med 2016;375:794-798