Macmillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers have announced a new joint Responsibility Deal pledge that should see a significant increase in the numbers of people who are active through the national Walking for Health scheme.
The two charities have formed a new partnership and have taken over the Walking for Health scheme from Natural England, which to date has seen 75,000 people across England walk the equivalent of 400 times around the world.
The Public Health Responsibility Deal aims to tap into the potential for businesses and influential organisations, such as these leading charities, to make a significant contribution to improving public health.
Macmillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers will be working with local authorities, the NHS and others to increase the number of local walks and the numbers of walkers.
Being active offers huge benefits but less than 40% of people do enough. And the older people get, the less they do - in England, less than 20% of over 65s meet recommended levels of 2.5 hours a week.
People not being active is costing the NHS across the UK £1.06 billion a year and £5.5 billion in lost productivity from sickness absence.
Public Health Minister Anne Milton said:
“Being active can help us stay healthy, by protecting against heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Walking is one of the easiest ways to build physical activity into our lives.
“This partnership between the Ramblers and Macmillan will see even more people realise the health benefits of walking - building on the great work that has seen Walking for Health participants walking the equivalent of 400 times around the world since 2000.”
Chair of the Public Health Responsibility Deal physical activity network Fred Turok said:
“I very much welcome this excellent pledge from Macmillan Cancer Support and The Ramblers to get more people up and out and walking as part of the Responsibility Deal.
“These charities will bring their expertise and experience working with communities to deliver this commitment and with a particular focus on the least active and those people living with and beyond cancer. The potential health and well-being benefits are huge.”
Fred Turok blogged earlier this week challenging businesses to encourage staff to get more active.
Walking for Health is open to everyone, but Macmillan and the Ramblers will be working together to improve opportunities for people affected by cancer to participate.
Walks are usually short, on easy terrain and are free and open to everyone, and can be found on www.walkingforhealth.org.uk