Walk to wellbeing - Blood Pressure Awareness Week 2017

15th September 2017

18th - 24th September is Blood Pressure Awareness Week, emphasising the importance of knowing your blood pressure and the simple changes you can make to maintain a healthy blood pressure level, such as walking more.

At the Land Trust, we help create safer, happier, stronger communities by providing attractive and accessible green open spaces, encouraging our visitors to improve their health and wellbeing through the provision of free or heavily subsidized outdoor exercise opportunities such as walking.

The benefits of walking are numerous but walking at a brisker pace (around 100 steps a minute) around a well maintained green space is particularly beneficial to the health of your heart and the level of your blood pressure.  Research indicates that walking through well maintained green space allows our brains to relax and concentrate at the same time and a small lifestyle change such as walking for just 30 minutes a day (continuously or in 10 minute sessions) can help to lower blood pressure and keep it down in the long-term, helping to reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular conditions and boosting the health of organs such as the kidneys and eyes and your overall sense of wellbeing.

To encourage the adoption of simple but necessary healthier lifestyle changes on a local and national level, we believe that open access to safe, sustainable green public open space with paths and trails in towns and cities is key.  This is particularly important as the demands of modern life can leave us short on time whilst balancing other commitments such as family and work.  Recent figures from Public Health England suggest that 41% (around 6 million) of people aged between 40 to 60 in England are endangering their health by not taking so much as one continuous 10 minute brisk walk once a month, costing the UK economy £7.4 billion a year, including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone [1]. Compare this to the 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity that adults aged 19 – 64 should be doing each week, it’s a stark contrast and one of the reasons why the Land Trust believe that it is so important for people to have access to well-connected green open space as part of their daily routine or commute.

As well as fulfilling the minimum recommended amount of exercise required to stay healthy or to improve levels of health, adults need to do two types of physical activity each week; strength and aerobic.  Balancing this with the need to sustain regular amounts of moderate intensity activity doesn’t have to mean expensive subscriptions to the gym or forcing yourself to pound the pavements on the same route around the local roads though; the answer is much simpler, cheaper and easier to incorporate into the daily routine – take a walk around your local Land Trust park.

Land Trust sites are managed with the health and cohesion of communities in mind.  We secure the future of these spaces through sustainable investment to manage them long term, enabling them to contribute to helping communities work towards healthier lifestyles and reducing costs on the UK economy.  Our success in this is supported by research conducted around the value of Land Trust green spaces [2] which has found that 9 out of 10 visitors feel that our green spaces play a positive part in their happiness and wellbeing and that our green spaces encourage them or others to keep fit and healthy.  The report also found that Land Trust activities contribute the equivalent of circa £90 million to society by providing people with free access to high quality, well maintained green public open spaces, encouraging connectivity and cohesion between communities.

If you’re looking for some inspiration and encouragement to get walking, we have over 60 sites across the UK and a selection of 10 – 30 minute brisk walking routes to enjoy with more being added on a regular basis.  There are also longer walking routes available should you wish to explore further – visit us at https://goo.gl/TRf49Y to view the whole collection.

[1] Everybody active, every day: a framework to embed physical activity into daily life – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/everybody-active-every-day-a-framework-to-embed-physical-activity-into-daily-life

[2] The Value of Our Green Space was published in January 2016 and is available at https://thelandtrust.org.uk/publication_type/corporate/

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