How can we encourage active lifestyles in Britain?

Walking is the Best Medicine:analysing & improving local routes

Our project plans to use enhanced network analysis to target investment in everyday walking routes and thereby encourage more walking by inactive people.


The phrase "Walking is man's best medicine," allegedly spoken by Hippocrates two millennia ago, is just as relevant today. It is particularly true in industrialised societies where new technologies have not only changed the way we work but, even more profoundly, have also affected our lifestyles by reducing the physical effort of most of our daily activities. The decline in physical exertion that day-to-day life requires, combined with other lifestyle choices is a dangerous combination. However, we can use walking, not just for pleasure and improved health, but also for the utilitarian purpose of transport, by incorporating it into our daily routine.


Our project will use GIS network analysis to identify primary walking routes between homes and key destinations in communities with poor health exacerbated by low activity levels. These routes are then remotely assessed for their ‘walkability’ (path quality, environmental quality and security) using OS data. Interventions to address physical and perceptual barriers on the routes, and thereby encourage greater use, will be action planned and delivered. The use of the routes will be monitored before and after the interventions.


It is anticipated that by proving the effectiveness of this method of analysis limited public resources can be used to best effect to assist in encouraging active lifestyles across urban Britain.



27 votes
Idea No. 248