'A person’s creativity increases by an average 60 per cent when walking'
David Harrison, Islington Living Streets
- Credit: David Harrison
Last week Islington medics joined environmentalists in expressing their support for People Friendly Streets. Parents went to the Town Hall with their children, who joined in with gusto, which is not surprising as walking or cycling to school forms a great habit for life. Parts of the borough are now really so much safer, and hopefully other wards will follow soon. Across London, road injuries have halved in LTNs: good for children and for medics walking or cycling to work.
Walking is a wonder drug: good for our physical and mental health. It is the easiest way to stay active and can reduce the risk of cognitive decline, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, depression, coronary heart disease and stroke, breast cancer, bone fractures and colorectal cancer. It also boosts creativity; a person’s creativity increases by an average 60% per cent when walking. For Dickens, who walked 12 miles per day (24,000 steps), walking time was thinking time, or perhaps more accurately dreaming time. Wordsworth’s sister said he could be a fairly silent companion, using his time on foot to compose and revise lines of poetry.
How far to walk? The magic number '10,000' steps dates back to a marketing campaign conducted shortly before the start of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games when a company began selling pedometers. It was hugely successful, the number stuck, and it has become embedded in popular culture, but scientific evidence now indicates little is gained by exceeding 6 to 8,000 steps a day (3.5 miles).
So if you want to stay healthy, are thinking of writing a poem or a letter to the Gazette, try a walk. Footways routes provide many options along attractive back streets. It is only 8,000 steps from King Henry’s Walk to the Angel and back, and you go almost entirely along LTNs. Remember: walking is free and reliable.