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Walking a prescription for good health

The AMA has backed initiatives such as last week’s Walk to Work Day as a way of encouraging people to improve their health through regular exercise. AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said walking was an easy exercise to perform, and imparted significant health benefits.

30 Sep 2012

The AMA has backed initiatives such as last week’s Walk to Work Day as a way of encouraging people to improve their health through regular exercise.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said walking was an easy exercise to perform, and imparted significant health benefits.

“Regular walking can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, asthma, and some cancers, and can help control type 2 diabetes,” Dr Hambleton said. “Walking is good exercise for people of all ages – and it’s easy. You can walk alone or in a group, at any time of day, and in most types of weather.”

Research indicates that walking as little as 15 minutes a day can reduce mortality and increase life expectancy.

A study of the exercise habits and health of 416,175 Taiwanese men and women, conducted between 1996 and 2008, found that those who were inactive were at much greater risk of death and disease than those who exercised even moderately.

The study, published in The Lancet, found that, compared with people who were sedentary, all-cause mortality was 14 per cent lower in those who averaged 15 minutes of exercise a day, and their life expectancy was three years longer.

Furthermore, the research showed that the benefits of exercise were cumulative. For each additional 15 minutes of daily exercise, all-cause mortality was cut by 4 per cent and cancer mortality by 1 per cent.

National Ride2Work Day, to be held on 17 October, is being promoted as another opportunity to help people get into the habit of regular exercise.

But a senior doctor at the Canberra Hospital has cancelled plans to participate in the event because of concerns about road safety.

Senior anaesthetist Robert Lang, who has been coordinating the participation of work colleagues in the event for several years, told The Canberra Times that he refused to organise this year’s event because of a lack of safe, bicycle-friendly access to the hospital, which is bounded on two sides by major roads.

“This lack of bicycle-friendly access makes riding to Canberra Hospital a potentially life-threatening event,” Dr Lang said. “I cannot, in good conscience, encourage my colleagues to ride bicycles to work when doing so would put their lives at risk.”

AR 


Published: 30 Sep 2012