£1.2m health fund will help English cities get walking, but more is needed

Walking for health walk in a park

A Walking for Health walk

We’re pleased to hear that the Government is giving five cities in England £1.2million for new walking projects, but want the Department of Health and Public Health England to invest more in walking as the best way to tackle England's costly physical inactivity epidemic.

Evidence collected in our recently published report Walking Works shows physical inactivity is now one of the most serious public health challenges in England, causing 37,000 premature deaths and costing the NHS and the nation as much as £10billion a year.

The report, commissioned for the national Walking for Health programme, which we run with Macmillan Cancer Support, also showed that everyday walking is the best and most accessible way to get most people active and that walking schemes are excellent value for money.

Originally the Department of Health pledged £1million of funding for walking projects to be shared between four cities in England, but has now upped the total by another £200,000 so a fifth city can benefit. The five cities are Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester and Norwich.

"It's fantastic that these cities now have a great opportunity to help local people improve their health by walking more,” said Simon Barnett, Ramblers Director of Walking Development. “We're sure they'll come up with some excellent and innovative approaches and we look forward to supporting them and working alongside them through our local health walks schemes and groups.”

"Though the total funding has been increased, this is still a relatively small amount of money given the huge potential for walking to tackle inactivity shown in the Walking Works report,” continued Simon. “It was only available to cities that had already been chosen for cycling funding”.

The funding has been made available by the Department of Health alongside £77million of existing funding from the Department of Transport for eight 'Cycling Cities' in England and will be spent between now and 2015.

“We very much hope this is only the beginning of some much needed investment in walking, which could save so many lives and improve the quality of life for so many people” added Simon.

Walking Works, an extensive overview of the mounting research into the life threatening consequences of inactivity, was launched in October with the support of Public Health England. Find out more about the report or download a copy from the Walking for Health website.