Over a fifth of people in the UK never walk for exercise – and half never walk to work.
New research for National Walking Month reveals that Glasgow is the top city in UK for walking – but Nottingham comes bottom
- Over a fifth of people in the UK (22%) say they never walk for leisure or exercise
- Half of people (46%) never walk to work
- Glasgow has emerged as the UK city in which the highest number of people (86%) walk for leisure or exercise
- In Nottingham just 68% of the city’s population ever exercise by walking
- Two thirds of the whole UK population (68%) claim to walk for at least 20 minutes each day for exercise
- Bad weather and personal safety are the top reasons for not walking
- The biggest motivators for walking are fresh air, physical fitness, and mental health
- A third of people have less time for walking than under lockdown – because they are socializing more
Over a fifth (22 per cent) of the UK population never walk for exercise or leisure at all – and nearly half of people (46 per cent) never walk to or for work, according to new research that surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2000 respondents in late April for National Walking Month.
A survey commissioned by Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, shows that Glasgow is the top city in the UK for walking, with the highest proportion of people (86 per cent) saying they sometimes walk purely for leisure or exercise
However, Nottingham is the city with the lowest proportion of people (68 per cent) who head out to get some exercise by walking. Brighton, Liverpool, Sheffield, and Cardiff are also in the top five cities for walking. But Plymouth, Manchester, Bristol, and Newcastle come in the bottom five [full table below].
The new data shows that two thirds of the whole UK population (68%) claim to walk for at least 20 minutes each day for exercise or leisure.
National Walking Month, which is organized by Living Streets every May, is this year encouraging everyone to #Try20, and walk for 20 minutes each day. Walking is an easy and accessible way to improve physical and mental health. A 20-minute walk can reduce the risk of preventable health conditions including certain cancers, depression, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The survey has also revealed that a third of people (32%) say they have less time for walking now than they did during lockdown, because they are socializing more. Nearly half of people (46 per cent) feel guilty for walking less now that lockdown is over.
According to Living Streets’ survey, the biggest motivators for people to get out and walk are fresh air (46 per cent), to maintain fitness and physical health (36 per cent) and to improve mental health and wellbeing (35 per cent).
Other reasons for walking are to lose weight (29 per cent), to connect with nature (21 per cent) and to exercise a pet (19 per cent).
People find the biggest barriers to walking to be bad weather (50 per cent) and concerns about not feeling safe walking alone (19 per cent). Other reasons for not walking include not having time (16 per cent), concerns about e-scooters (11 per cent), air pollution (11 per cent) and traffic (10 per cent).
Over half of people say they notice an effect on their weight if they don’t walk (52 per cent) or notice an effect on their mental health (53 per cent).
Stephen Edwards, chief executive of Living Streets said: “It is encouraging that two thirds of us walk for at least 20 minutes a day. But it is very concerning that so many people never walk for exercise or leisure at all – and such a high proportion of people don’t walk to or for work.
“Walking is good for our minds, our bodies and our neighborhoods. Walking for short journeys, instead of driving, helps to reduce congestion, road danger, and air pollution. Even a short, brisk walk can have fantastic mental and physical health benefits, helping to prevent long-term chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and depression and improving the management of existing conditions.
“Walking is a great way to exercise and socialize at the same time. Active people report higher levels of mental wellbeing and are more likely to be satisfied with their life, feel happier, and less anxious – and walking together can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. With lockdown restrictions lifted and the weather getting nicer, it’s time for us to walk back together.”
Percentage of people in UK cities who say they sometimes walk for exercise or leisure
- Glasgow – 86%
- Brighton – 84%
- Liverpool – 83%
- Sheffield – 82%
- Cardiff – 81%
- Leeds – 80%
- Birmingham – 80%
- Belfast – 78%
- Southampton – 78%
- Norwich – 77%
- London – 77%
- Edinburgh – 76%
- Newcastle – 76%
- Bristol – 76%
- Manchester – 74%
- Plymouth – 71%
- Nottingham – 68%
What are the biggest walking motivators?
- To get fresh air (46%)
- To maintain fitness and physical health (36%)
- To improve mental health and wellbeing (35%)
- To lose weight (29%)
- To connect with nature (21%)
- To exercise a pet (19%)
- To count my daily steps (17%)
- To save money (13%)
- To spend time with friends/family (12%)
- To help reduce congestion and air pollution (5%)
… and what are the barriers for not walking?
- Bad weather (50%)
- Don’t feel safe walking alone (19%)
- Lack of suitable walking routes (16%)
- Places to go are not within walking distance (16%)
- Don’t enjoy walking alone (16%)
- Don’t have time to walk (16%)
- Worried about e-scooters (11%)
- Air pollution (11%)
- Worried about traffic (10%)
- Worried about parked cars (9%)
Living Streets are the UK charity for everyday walking. Aiming to create a nation where walking is the natural choice for every day, they want to achieve a better walking environment and to inspire people of all generations to enjoy the benefits the simple act of walking brings.