The Ramblers welcome the publication of the government’s Strategy on Sport, which sets out new commitments to get more people physically active and recognises that walking has a central role to play in achieving this aim.
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch announced a new and more joined up approach to delivery and funding across government to increase physical activity. From now on, there will be an increased focus on organisations that not only increase activity but can demonstrate wider social benefits, namely: physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, individual development, social and community development and economic development. The remit of Sport England will be widened to support certain physical activities that deliver these benefits, such as cycling, dancing and walking. Greater emphasis will be placed on motivating inactive people to become active.
The strategy also highlights the vital role that good quality green spaces – including parks, paths and other open spaces – play in getting people active everyday and providing social benefits for communities. It calls on Sport England to ensure that these spaces are supported alongside more traditional built facilities such as sports halls and pitches.
The Ramblers believe that increased government support for walking is the best way to meet the strategy’s aims. Walking is an ideal way of getting the inactive more active because it is simple, sustainable, inexpensive, can be done almost anywhere and can be incorporated into everyday routines. Evidence also shows that walking provides clear social benefits, including improved physical and mental health, increased social interaction, greater community cohesion as well as economic benefits. Walking acts as a gateway into other sports or competitive physical activities.
The Ramblers Chief Executive, Benedict Southworth said:
“We welcome the government’s pledge to get more people physically active and the new focus on increasing the social benefits from sport and physical activity. Greater support for walking programmes such as Walking for Health and infrastructure including paths and parks would go a long way to meeting both of these aims.”
“Sport England, Natural England and local authorities all have an important roles to play in the delivery of this strategy and we will work with and support them to improve the quality of local green spaces. “