Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General gave a statement at a press conference saying that walking should be a national health priority.
He stressed that only 50 percent (50%) of Americans get enough physical exercise and that simply taking a walk can significantly lower people’s chances of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Health professionals inform that average adults require 22 minutes of moderate physical activity per day to keep themselves in good health. This adds up to a minimum of 150 minutes per week.
Dr. Vivek Murthy explained that “The science tells us that 22 minutes of brisk walking or moderate physical activity can get you these health benefits of reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes”.
But researchers are now starting to realize that the problem may not lie with the people, but with the communities that they live in, as many of them prevent their locals from walking around. Statistically speaking, more than 30 percent (30%) of American communities can be labeled unwalkable.
There are two (2) main obstacles in this scenario. One of them is that people have to first take a bus or drive their car to reach a place where they can actually go for a walk.
The other obstacle is that walking in these communities can be dangerous. Earlier studies and surveys have revealed that 4.700 pedestrians collided with cars in 2013 and lost their lives, and 50.000 pedestrians collided with cars back in 2003 and lost their lives.
But aside from all of this, Dr. Murthy also believes that United States citizens have “lost the culture of physical activity”. So steps need to be taken to make the communities friendlier for pedestrians, but they also need to be taken to change the pedestrians’ mentality and make sure that they will go out and do the healthy thing once the option is available to them.
The National Institute of Health informs that two thirds of Americans are currently overweight, and one third of them are in fact obese. Out of the entire US population, 5 percent (5%) is labeled morbidly obese.
Dr. Murthy also mentioned that some racial, ethnic, and age groups are more affected than others. It turns out that people of color, seniors of all races, and people with disabilities, are the main groups that tend to live in unwalkable communities. The US Surgeon General blames health equity for this discrimination.
And unfortunately these living conditions have deadly health consequences. Health experts say that 7 in 10 Americans die from chronic disease that could have been easily prevented – type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even various cancers. An ideal solution would be walking, “something we have been doing for millennia” according to Dr. Murthy.
He went on to offer a positive example – Indian River, Florida. After the community revamped its streets and made them walkable, 95 percent (95%) of the locals started walking around.
The US Surgeon General also stressed that streets should also be made friendly for wheelchair-bound individuals. It’s even harder for them to find a place where they can roll, than it is for average people to find a place where they can walk. It’s because of this that they are three (3) times more likely to suffer from one chronic disease or another.
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