Date Published: 25 May 2017

Cancer Research UK has found that most Brits walk less than one mile per day

According to recent research made available by Cancer Research UK's 'Walk All Over Cancer' campaign, on a typical weekday more than half (52%) of UK adults walk a mile or less while 17% walk less than a quarter of a mile1. The reasons given for such low levels of activity included insufficient time (32%) and bad weather (25%).

It is generally well-known that having an active, or even just a more active than would probably be the case without some awareness and planning, lifestyle can have many positive health effects, including reducing cancer risk. For example, it has been found2 that regularly doing exercise that warms the body up and results in becoming slightly out of breath, such as brisk walking, could help prevent around 3,400 cases of cancer in the UK each year. Moving more can also help to maintain a healthy weight, which also reduces the risk of cancer. Reports indicate that being overweight or obese is the single biggest cause of preventable cancer in the UK after smoking3 and is linked to 13 types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreatic cancer.

Katie Edmunds, Cancer Research UK health information officer, said:

" These are worrying figures, as we know that being regularly physically active can have a host of health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer.

_While our frenzied lifestyles can make it tough for people to find time to keep active, any level of exercise is better than none, so building some moderate activity into your daily routine can really make a difference.

_For many people a spot of brisk walking is the easiest way to do this which is why signing up to our Walk All Over Cancer campaign is a great way to kick start a big difference to your physical health and wellbeing."

Cancer Research UK has set up a 'Step Up Stop' at King's Cross station, London, to encourage commuters to lace up their trainers and sign up to Walk All Over Cancer, 10,000 steps a day challenge this June. Based on the average person's stride 10,000 steps is around five miles. If successful in the challenge, by the end of the month walkers will have covered 150 miles which is about the distance from London to Manchester.

Nikki Gilmour, 47, of York first took part in Walk All Over Cancer in March 2017 when she was recovering from treatment for a brain tumour and a stroke. She said:

" It had been such a horrendous time. I'd had brain surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. I'd been told my cancer was life limiting and the stroke meant any kind of movement was difficult for me. I'd gone from doing Latin dancing to barely being able to walk round the block. I gave away my stilettos and bought some hideous elasticated old lady shoes. I lost my hair and the steroids caused me to put on five stone in weight.

_ On the second day of my treatment I got a dog – a fluffy pug called Betty. She was fantastic, she really made me laugh, and she meant that I had to get myself out of the house and go for a walk. I found out about Walk All Over Cancer on Facebook on the same day that I had the results of a follow up scan, which showed the little bit of tumour that was left in my brain had responded better to the treatment than expected. So I thought - 'Right I'm going to do that. That's my goal. I'm going to get my strength up and do it'.

_ Doing the challenge helped me to feel like I'd really turned a corner and had a new focus. I started investing in myself again. I lost weight and bought new clothes. I even got some of my stilettoes back from friends. Walking is such a great way to look after yourself, get outside and focus on the positives. That's why I'm signing up again to take part with Betty this June."

Ref. to Research:

  1. YouGov survey of 2,198 UK adults conducted online 3-5 May 2017 (figures stated weighted to be representative of UK adults, age 18+) made available via Cancer Research Press Release May 2017.
  2. Parkin D.M., "The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010", British Journal of Cancer, 105, S2-S5, 6 Dec 2011. DOI: 10.1038/bjc.2011.474
  3. Lauby-Secretan B, Scoccianti C, Loomis D, Grosse Y, Bianchini F, Straif K "Body Fatness and Cancer - Viewpoint of the IARC Working Group", N Engl J Med, 375:794-798, 25 Aug 2016. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsr1606602

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