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The Family Walk - a Dying Tradition Around the World?

LONDON, December 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Science at Loughborough University in the UK are today encouraging families worldwide to take more regular exercise together in the New Year following concerning research* that shows two-thirds of people across the globe are not walking together as a family (68%), with the Portuguese being the least likely (71%) and Austrians (63%) most likely to walk together.

According to international research commissioned by urban walking specialist MBT, the traditional 'promenade' or 'paseo' is on the decline, with over half of respondents globally (52%) reporting they walk less than they did 10 years ago, citing lack of interest from other family members (45%); too little time (43%); lack of information about where to walk (39%); tiredness (38%) and poor motivation (33%) as the main barriers. Likewise, the increase in more sedentary activity is seen to be a contributory factor, with families choosing to spend their time together for mealtimes (80%), sitting around talking (66%) and/or watching TV (53%).

However, the festive period is still the most conducive to families walking together, with 69% of respondents working off the Xmas excess with the Austrians again and Germans (=86%) most likely to do so and the Spanish (56%) and Americans (58%) least likely to do so. Likewise, being healthier, getting fresh air (=73%) and enjoying the weather (65%) were reported as motivators for families to walk more regularly together.

Dr Stacy Clemes, Lecturer in Human Biology at Loughborough University, comments: "Lack of physical activity is widely documented across the world as a major risk factor for many chronic diseases. Despite walking being described as an ideal form of exercise,(1) it is concerning to see families worldwide not using this cheap and effective form of exercise to promote their family's health."

"Walking is an inclusive activity, allowing families to share a common interest and spend quality time in the fresh air(2). It is also worth noting that increasing physical activity through walking would have an impact on global obesity figures, as well as providing a free alternative to thegym."

Matthias Schneider, certified sports scientist and member of the MBT Academy International comments: "According to the research we commissioned in conjunction with Loughborough University, an average 36% of participants also reported that their footwear was uncomfortable. This prevents them from walking regularly because they were concerned about damaging their feet. At MBT, we are encouraging people to kick off the next decade committed to being more active. Simply by walking in MBTs you can tone core muscles, improve posture and balance and increase calorie burn."

* Survey conducted on 5236 individuals across Europe and US by researchers at Loughborough University.

1 - Morris and Hardman 1997

2 - National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) 2006


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