|It’s Walk to Work Week 26-30 April 2010
Joyce Redfearn, Howard Gallimore and staff members march into action
Over half the population has weight and fitness problems. So what can we do about it?
Eating more healthily, joining (and sticking with) the gym – all those resolutions from months ago, somehow forgotten. But there’s an easier way to lose weight and move towards a healthier lifestyle – walking to work or just going for a walk.
Wigan Council chief executive Joyce Redfearn joined colleagues concerned with sustainability and travel planning this week to promote walking to work. “Figures show that we jump into our cars for over a fifth of journeys shorter than a mile,” says Joyce. “And it’s our own body figures which are showing the damage. Walking a bit more is not only healthier for us, it benefits the environment and saves money too. Reducing car use will help to address climate change by reducing our carbon footprint and also traffic reducing congestion.”
National charity Living Streets runs the Walking Works campaign, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Wigan Council has signed up to their campaign – where teams of five people compete with each other to try to achieve the highest number of steps.
“We’re encouraging walking to work,” says Joyce. “But a stroll at lunchtime or in the evening is important too. The more people include walking in their daily life, the fitter they become. And of course that’s good for our workforce as a whole as it’s known to boost performance, counter lethargy and reduce tension.”
Armed with pedometers, council teams are stepping up to the mark. 30 minutes a day of walking equals the government’s recommended level of daily activity – and there’s a double incentive for whoever clocks up the most steps.
Wigan restaurateur Howard Gallimore is offering a slap up meal at his award-winning town centre premises. “Healthy eating of course,” laughs Howard. “I am a proud supporter of the Healthy Business Agenda and delighted to be part of this event.”
Increasing walking is part of the council’s sustainable travel planning agenda. Officers are working closely with organisations to promote cycling, bus and train use in the borough. New signs give pedestrians an idea of how long it will take to walk to key sites in the town centres, measuring in minutes not miles. Canalside direction signs are becoming familiar directing cyclists to locations within the new Greenheart Regional Park at the heart of the borough and there are advanced plans for a new Sunday train service for Atherton this spring.