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Better Walking For NZ - Expert

Published: Thu 25 Nov 2004 11:14 AM
Better Walking For NZ - Expert
A leading world expert on walking told a Recreation Association seminar in Christchurch today that New Zealand is doing well, but could be a lot better.
Mr Rodney Tolley, Director of Walk21 (a global partnership of walking experts) is in New Zealand to share valuable information on why walking is considered the most important form of physical activity internationally and how we can be better at it.
“Obesity, diabetes and other health issues have done a good job at highlighting physical activity as being essential, and walking is one of the best and easiest ways of being active. It can be done in small amounts each day, is free and can be incorporated into everyday life” said Mr Tolley.
The good news is that New Zealanders already do lots of walking. In fact research from SPARC shows that walking is the number one recreation activity. Where New Zealand can improve is by making it easier for people to walk.
According to Mr Tolley there are two key components that need to be considered to increase the uptake of walking and other sustainable transport options like cycling. The first is the environment and the second is human behaviour.
Better public transport, safe walkways, pleasant surroundings and small distances are all key environmental elements of making walking attractive. However, people need to want to walk and understand the benefits of walking.
“These benefits are not just around health outcomes. They also include a greater sense of community, less traffic congestion, greater economic benefits and an increase in creativity, particularly in children.
The first walking conference, called Living Streets, starts in Wellington tomorrow and Mr Tolley will be closing the conference with an optimistic and upbeat message about the growth in understanding of the importance around the world.

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