The US Surgeon’s advice to sedentary Americans: take a walk. Communities will have to make their neighborhoods safer for foot traffic.
In a community intervention issued on Wednesday, Surgeon General of the US, Vivek Murthy, said that only 50% of adults and just over 25% of high school students meet the physical activity recommended for good health.
Murthy said that you do not have to worry if you can’t afford going to the gym or run 10 kilometres, because walking is just as useful as these, only more simple and affordable. But for that, the Surgeon General adds, neighborhoods have to step up and create places where people can do that. He firmly believes that everyone in America needs safe places for walking. Murthy said later in an interview that groups of people have to work together to create safe, walkable communities, adding that there are too many of the US communities lack that.
America’s doctor claims that walking is good exercise and it significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a full list of other major health problems. Any regular physical activity can improve the quality of life and ease these symptoms in people who are already suffering from chronic diseases. Murthy himself recognized that sometimes he likes to hold meetings while taking walks.
Health guidelines issued in 2008 advises adults to get at least 2 and a half hours a week of physical activity, whereas children are recommended to be active for at least an hour every day. Murthy suggests that a healthy walk is that in which you can still talk but cannot sing.
American people often encounter the same two obstacles: busy days and environments; two things that make it difficult to set up physical activity within their daily routine. In the biggest cities, places such as restaurants, shops and schools are located far away from people’s home, so they are forced to drive or to use public transportation. Many busy streets lack sidewalks, or they can lead nowhere and force people to cross on the other side. Another factor that stop people from walking may be neighborhood crime.
The Surgeon General’s call-to-action initiative encourages communities to step up and make walking safer and easier for people of all ages. But that requires big efforts from city planning officials, parks, schools and health officials, but also from the public. Murthy wants officials to start zoning decisions and build more sidewalks.
Scott Bricker, director of America Walks, said that action needs to be taken as soon as possible because this is a critical health issue.
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