Brits will be tightening their shoelaces as well as their purse strings in 2009 as millions intend to take up walking to get healthy and shed unwanted pounds. PruHealth, the insurer that rewards people for engaging in healthy behaviour, says that nearly two thirds of Brits plan to begin a new diet, health or fitness regime, and of those, almost three quarters plan to walk regularly as part of their healthy start to 2009. However, the majority of those who want to exercise by walking are far off the mark when it comes to knowing exactly how much they will need to do each day to benefit.
Currently the average Brit walks for 43 minutes a day (approximately 2.9 miles), but acknowledges they need to do more and believes stepping this up to 57 minutes (or 3.8 miles) will provide the physical benefit they need. In reality health advice recommends we should in fact be taking 10,000 steps a day-equating to nearer 5 miles or 75 minutes of walking. For 40 per cent of the population this means almost doubling the amount of time they think they need to walk to make a difference.
PruHealth's Shaun Matisonn comments: "Walking is a great form of exercise so it is very encouraging to see so many people wanting to incorporate it into their daily lives. And it is also free. There does seem to be a misconception as to how much walking we should ideally be doing each day and the answer that it is 10,000 steps is sure to come as a big surprise to many. It would be hard for anyone to hit this target immediately, but small changes such as getting off the bus a stop early, shopping locally without taking the car, or taking the dog for a longer walker, are all ‘steps' in the right direction. Taking 10,000 steps a day can help protect you against a wide range of diseases including strokes, diabetes and some types of cancer."
PruHealth knows that it has never been more important for people to lead healthy lifestyles and PruHealth's Vitality Programme encourages people to do so. Vitality covers five areas - education, exercise, nutrition, screening and smoking cessation - and members could earn points by participating in healthy activities related to each area. By earning points, members can move up to different status levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum) and earn lifestyle rewards, as well as potentially lowering the cost of their PMI premiums in the process.
PruHealth's philosophy is to reward their members for making the effort to stay healthy. Vitality enables members to earn rewards for looking after their health, for example by eating healthily, going to the gym or walking each day using a pedometer.