Walking is the new wonder drug, we tell the Senate

GCC Executive Director Clifford Maynes tells the Senate walking is a wonder drug.

GCC Executive Director Clifford Maynes tells the Senate walking is a wonder drug.

Re-engineering everyday walking into our lives should be a leading national strategy for fighting obesity and inactivity-related health problems.

This message came through loud and clear from Green Communities Canada in recent testimony to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. (See video.) The Committee has been asked to report on obesity “causes, consequences and the way forward.”

GCC’s Clifford Maynes told the Committee that creating a culture of walking is a great way – likely the only way – to achieve a sustained increase in daily physical activity at a population scale. A national walking strategy with participation by all levels of government would benefit not just individuals, but the entire nation.

Walking is already Canada’s favourite activity, which is a great place to start. Virtually everyone can walk, anywhere, anytime, Maynes said.

It is the activity we are least likely to abandon as we age, and it is open to people of all incomes, without the need for memberships or special equipment.

Maynes told the Committee that routine everyday walking for transportation has been engineered out of our lives over the past half century or more, largely because the needs of walkers have been ignored.

In addition to promoting the documented health benefits of walking – and they are legion – we need to change our communities so that walking once again becomes safe, convenient, fun and attractive.

Build it and they will come.

Green Communities has long been a national leader in promoting walking and walkable communities through our Canada Walks division, led by director Jacky Kennedy.

Canada Walks provides guidance on all the steps communities need to take to improve walkability – like safe road crossings, connected and lively sidewalks, walkable destinations, shade and shelter, safety enforcement, and much more.

A program of Canada Walks, the WALK Friendly Community designation, includes over 200 questions about local action to increase walkability. Municipalities are awarded designations at the bronze, silver, gold, and platinum levels for making real progress.

The Senate Committee likely will report some time after the fall election.

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