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It’s National Walking Month, the ideal time to promote active lifestyles

It’s National Walking Month, the ideal time to promote active lifestyles

Local councils and health authorities want to encourage people to get more exercise or travel more actively, and walking (for those that can and wheeling for those that cannot) is a great place to begin: its cheap, easy to get started and available to most people. National Walking Month, which kicks off today, is the ideal opportunity to start new people off on a journey to healthier and greener living.

With 25.7% of the UK population classified as ‘inactive’ by Sport England, the need for interventions to encourage healthier lifestyles is as pressing as ever. Factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status significantly influence individual engagement in physical activity, creating disparities in health outcomes across communities.

BetterPoints works with local authorities and public health bodies to address these disparities by identifying, reaching, and engaging people with such barriers to being physically active, whether for health, leisure or transport. By incentivising walking and other forms of active travel, BetterPoints provides a low-pressure entry point for individuals to adopt healthier habits.

Walking itself, though, has a lower bar to entry than other forms of exercise or transport:

  • Accessibility: Walking is easier and more accessible, with no need to buy and store equipment – all you need is a pair of shoes
  • Convenience: Walking has no need for parking, locks, or gear to cart around
  • Flexibility: Walkers can easily combine walking with other modes of transport
  • Security: With no equipment involved, there is nothing for anyone to steal
  • Infrastructure: Walking infrastructure is still more widespread and accessible for most people
  • Integration: Walking fits seamlessly into daily routines
  • Encouraging Active Travel: BetterPoints programmes show much higher take-up of walking over other modes of transport, making it a natural entry-point to developing active travel habits.

This appears to be borne out by the UK government’s Walking and Cycling Statistics, which show that walking far outweighs cycling as an active travel choice, and by our own BetterPoints app users, who are at least fives times more likely to choose walking over other modes of active travel.

Walking, therefore, can serve as a gateway to more vigorous activities such as running and cycling, making it an accessible option for individuals of all fitness levels.

On top of its low bar to entry, walking offers numerous benefits. As a form of transport, it saves money on petrol, parking, and travel fares, alleviates the anxiety of sitting in delayed traffic or waiting for a bus, and removes the stress of finding a parking space or a bike rack. As a leisure activity, it gets you out of the house, helps calm you down, and provides opportunities for social interaction.

By leveraging BetterPoints’ innovative platform, local authorities can harness the power of incentives to kick-start behaviour change and promote active living among their residents.

As National Walking Month unfolds, now is the opportune moment for councils to partner with BetterPoints and embark on a journey towards healthier and greener communities.