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Why get involved?

Why Active Travel?

Okay, so we need more exercise but as a nation we don't do it.  Why not?  

Well, for a lot of people they simply don't feel they have the time.  In a country such as the UK, that almost prides itself on it's work long hours culture, there's very little time left for living a physically active life.  This is why getting your daily exercise whilst commuting is the smarter choice.  Sometimes Active Travel can be faster than the car, sometimes it's not.  But for all but a handful of cases, getting your exercise in whilst on your commute will take up less of your day than commuting by car and then having to go to the gym or go running afterwards.  Not only that, but by making your exercise your commute, you are more likely to stick to it (how else are you going to get home?).

Health

The NHS reports that participation in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week (5 x 30 minutes), will reduce the risk of:

  • Coronary heart disease by 35%
  • Diabetes by 50%
  • Breast cancer by 20%
  • Colon cancer by 50%
  • Osteoathritis by 83%

Plus BUPA reports that exercise:

  • Improves bone density, decreasing the risk of broken bones
  • Reduces lower back pain
  • Reduces the pain felt from Osteoathritis
  • Reduces your risk of suffering a stroke
  • Reduces High Cholesterol & High Blood Pressure

In fact a lack of physical activity has been estimated to be a bigger killer than obesity!  With a rating of 4th biggest risk factor to mortality in the world just behind high blood pressure, tobacco use & high blood sugar.

Well-Being

Not satisfied with your Physical Health, physical activity will improve your psychological health as well.  You will feel it yourself after going for a jog, riding a bike or playing sport, you get that feel-good endorphin release that makes you feel more positive and social.  

But that temporary release is not all;

 

Sleep

Regular exercise (5 x 30 mins per week) can produce a 65% improvement in perceived sleep quality.

Stress-relief

Physical stress (exercise) actually helps to train the body to cope with other kinds of stress, helping you deal with those last minute deadlines (link).

Exercise repairs the damage that stress can cause to the brain and in-particular memory areas (link).

& can also be used to manage anxiety disorders (link).

Reduction in mental illness

A 30% lower risk of both Depression & Dementia from exercising (NHS)

Improved self-esteem

On top of all this, exercise help you lose weight (link), and can make you feel more confident, more energised and generally feel more positive about yourself.

Getting Outdoors

Exercising in the outdoors has been shown to bring greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement.  It decreases tension, confusion, anger and depression & participants who take part in report greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and are more likely to repeat the activity at a later date.  (link)

Save Money

The average car running costs in 2014 were £3,453 per annum (link).  Imagine if you

could cut those costs out of your life?  Think of the holiday you could have every year, if you didn't have to pay to keep a car running.  Whilst yes, for most people, cutting all cars from the home isn't possible (they are actually very useful!).  But with an average of 12 cars for every 10 households in Britain (link) maybe the answer is to give up just one of the cars that sits on the driveway.  Even if you kept the car for when you needed it, the running costs per mile currently sit at 21-22 pence per mile (petrol & diesel) Imagine the miles that you must do to work and back, and how much that cost adds up over time without you even knowing!

A Better Workforce

A happy and healthy workforce is a more reliable and productive workforce.  As a minmum Sustrans saves companies £7,500 per annum for every 100 employees that they can engage with.  This is made up of a reduction in 24 sick days, improved well-being in 61 employees, all-round increase in productivity and a reduction of 38 tonnes of C02 being released into the atmosphere.  (link)

A survey of employers found that those who cycle to work are more productive and energetic and are less “groggy” when they have arrive at their desks.

Not to mention the reduced car parking pressures and positive image that it gives an organisation.

Environment

The green issues surrounding motorised transport are well known and have been covered in much greater depth and breadth elsewhere (1, 2, 3)  and so I won't go into it here.

Interestingly, however, it's been shown that car drivers actually inhale up to 15 times more harmful polutants than cyclists or pedestrians.  This is because the intake for the air circulation system on a car is at the same low level as the exhaust of the car in front.  Whilst the mouth of a cyclist or pedestrian is in a slightly higher but significantly cleaner height.

Fun

Finally, it is genuinly more enjoyable to walk or cycle to your destination than to jump in a car and feel the need to accelerate from red light to traffic jam.  The fresh air wakes you up, the sun helps regulate your mood, the time it takes you to travel gives you more time to think and unwind.  If you're not able to walk or cycle the entire distance?  Public Transport allows you to relax and not concentrate on the bumper in front of you, you get to sit back, relax and maybe finish that book you never get chance to read.

So there are a great deal of reasons for taking part in this year's challenge and that's without mentioning once, the great prizes that are available to win!