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Opting to Walk Reduces Death Rate

Posted Jul 22 2012 10:08pm
Posted on July 19, 2012, 6 a.m. in Longevity | Lifestyle |

The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Strategy on Diet Physical Activity and Health urges that people engage In at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. Walking is considered a moderate physical activity and meets these exercise recommendations.  Catherine Pérez, from the Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB), and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study based on Catalonia's Mobility Survey performed by the Generalitat and the Metropolitan Transport Agency in 2006 which documents the journeys of more than one hundred thousand people.  Then, 80,552 individuals over 17 years of age who did at least one journey were selected and researchers calculated the number of men and women who did not meet daily physical exercise recommendations but travelled by car or motorbike for journeys up to five minutes long.  In order to calculate the annual economic benefits, the 'Health Economic Evaluation Tool (HEAT)' was used. It was designed by the WHO and estimates the benefits of reduced mortality by increasing physical exercise.  The calculations revealed that 77.2% of men and 67.7% of women in Catalonia do not reach recommended daily amounts of physical exercise when walking.  However, 15.6% and 13.9% respectively would reach recommendations if they were to substitute at least one short, 5 minute vehicle journey.  When applied to the population of Catalonia, this would mean that 326,557 men and 252,509 women would meet recommendations. According to the estimations made using HEAT, this new form of physical activity would avoid 108.4 deaths in men and 79.2 in women. In turn, this would bring about savings of (Euro) 124,216,000 and (Euro) 84,927,000 respectively. Writing that: “This study demonstrates the potential of trips on foot as a source of physical activity,” the study authors submit that: “It also points out that both benefits for the health of the population and a huge economic benefit could have been gained through active transportation interventions.”

Marta Olabarria, Katherine Perez, Elena Santamarina-Rubio, Ana M. Novoa, Francesca Racioppi.  “Health impact of motorised trips that could be replaced by walking.”  Eur J Public Health, June 2012.

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