Older folks say technology is preventing the younger generation from following in their footsteps, literally. One-quarter of young British adults ages 18-24 admits to leading a sedentary lifestyle.
A survey of 2,000 people in the United Kingdom conducted this month showed that many young adults walk an average of only five minutes per day, barely enough steps to get from the doorstep to the car, or even from the couch to fridge. Whereas middle-aged parents ages 42-54 place the blame squarely on contemporary communications and information technology, young adults indirectly hinted toward the same excuse.
The top excuse for a lack of locomotion? “I don’t have anyone to walk with,” young adults told pollsters, suggesting greater social interaction online and fewer encounters in the physical environment.
On average, British women walked 12 minutes per day, while men walked only eight minutes per day. Both fell far short of recommendations from the British Heart Foundation, which recommends 30 minutes per day of walking. Likewise, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults of all ages walk an average of 30 minutes per day, suggesting health benefits from even three brisk 10-minute walks per day.
British women said they skipped walking on many days because of a lack of energy, or because of poor weather. Men were more likely to blame busy work schedules and a lack of time.
Paula Franklin, a manager at British healthcare company Bupa, told The Telegraph it’s easy to make excuses for lack of exercise, even for walking — the most basic, affordable, and easiest form of physical activity possible.
“Walking can usually fit easily into your daily routine and something as simple as choosing to walk even part of the way to work instead of taking the car or bus can have a huge impact on your health,” Franklin said. “For example, adding just 20 minutes walking to your day can dramatically reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and strokes.”
Although some Britons blamed poor weather or unsafe neighborhoods, one excuse in particular seemed counterintuitive: 12 percent of survey respondents blamed their present lack of fitness on their decision to refrain from walking. While mobility is understandably an issue for many, what better way to increase your fitness than by taking a walk?