Daily Walking

May is National Walking Month in Britain, promoting walking both for recreational and active travel purposes. Regularly going for a walk can improve our physical and mental health and wellbeing, provide opportunities for social contact, and be better for our environment. The infographic below illustrates that while just over half of urban Scots go for a walk five days a week, four out of five of people would walk more if there were more publicly accessible greenspaces close to where they live. Encouraging more people to walk more regularly would maximise the potential benefits, addressing wider health concerns and promoting more sustainable travel choices. One way of increasing the number of people choosing to walk regularly might be to improve the provision and quality of public greenspaces, and to ‘green’ our streets so that they are more pedestrian-friendly.

Click on the infographic to enlarge it.

daily walking infographic

Benefits of walking


There is a wealth of research that underscores the many benefits of walking. Walking can improve both physical health and mental wellbeing. In particular, walking in greenspaces has been shown to reduce stress levels. Walking also provides opportunities for social connections, either arranged meetings or chance encounters, bringing social benefits at a personal and a community level. Choosing to walk for active travel, such as for the journey to work, benefits the environment.



People regularly walking


There are many reasons why people may or may not walk regularly, some of which are positive (such as a decision to walk more for health reasons), some of which are negative (such as a decision not to walk more due to a poor street environment or the lack of a safe crossing over a busy road).


A recent survey suggests that just over half of people in eight large urban areas of Scotland (57%) go for a walk at least five days a week (Sustrans, 2024). In the four largest cities, the number of people regularly walking ranges from a below average 49% in Aberdeen, to 66%, which is the highest percentage and is found in Edinburgh. The survey also found that four out of five people (80%) would walk more if they had more parks and greenspaces close to where they live.


The infographic compares the Sustrans survey findings of the number of people regularly walking in the four largest cities, with data from the Ordnance Survey (2020) on the average number of parks and publicly accessible greenspaces within one kilometre of where people live. The comparison shows that Edinburgh, which has the highest number of people walking regularly, also has the most parks close to where people live. In contrast, Aberdeen, with the lowest number of people walking regularly, also has the fewest parks close to homes. While the data comparison cannot be said to show a causal link, it does appear to support the research findings that more parks would encourage people to walk more.


Therefore, ensuring that people have access to good quality greenspaces close to where they live could be a key component of promoting walking as a recreational activity and as an active travel choice as part of healthier lifestyles. For example, a recent concept project by JONO Design, called Falkirk Greenway, illustrates how a multi-functional green network could be developed to better link places and spaces in Falkirk, and promote walking as part of a healthier lifestyle.



Sources


Living Streets & The Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH)(2022). Getting Scotland Walking: The Case for Action.


Ordnance Survey (2020). Access to public parks and playing fields, Great Britain, April 2020 edition.


Sustrans (2024). Walking and Cycling Index: Scotland aggregated report 2023.


This infographic appeared in JONO Design e-news. The e-news is published once every couple of months and each issue contains a specially designed infographic.


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