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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
Lazy 'can be encouraged to move'
A walker
Encouraging walking could provide health benefits
Health professionals can motivate even the most inactive people to increase the amount they walk, say researchers.

However, they found advice had to be tailored to individual needs - adopting a "one size fits all" policy would not be as effective, they suggest.

They found that with the right advice people could be motivated to walk for an extra 30-60 minutes a week - enough for significant health benefits.

Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

We can't point to a single silver bullet that will promote walking for everyone
Dr David Ogilvie

The researchers, from the Scottish Physical Activity Research Collaboration, reviewed 48 previous studies into promoting walking.

The Scottish study features in the British Medical Journal.

Options needed

Promotion methods used included using pedometers or promoting walking as an environmentally friendly mode of transport.

In some cases these methods have been targeted at whole communities, for example by handing out free pedometers.

Lead author David Ogilvie said one size may not fit all, and to encourage more walking patients should be offered a range of options.

He said face-to-face advice from healthcare professionals could be useful in enabling patients' needs to be assessed and individual advice given.

Dr Ogilvie said: "We can't point to a single silver bullet that will promote walking for everyone, but we have found evidence that different approaches can be effective."

He said different people would find different things useful as motivational tools.

Some might find using a pedometer or attending group meetings to report their progress useful, while others could be motivated by environmental concerns to use walking as a method of transport.

Everyone different

Ken Fox, professor of exercise and health science at the University of Bristol said as with any behavioural changes, asking people to increase their physical activity levels could present a difficult challenge, and different people could need different help.

He said: "Everyone's personal situation is different, so tailoring recommendations to their different needs and circumstances is important."

Cathy Ross, a Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said 30 minutes of daily, moderate-intensity physical activity could cut heart disease risks by half.

She said: "Whatever way you do it, walking is a fantastic way for everyone to achieve their 30 a Day."


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