Cyclinally, I was known to ask for examples of population-based initiatives that actually led to continued increases in physical activity (with the expectation that they did not exist).
Well, I can no longer do that, as Scotland has managed to increase recreational walking by 13% over 6 years for the entire population!
The National Hiking Strategy targets 5 million Scotland residents with messages about the health benefits of walking
The strategy included many areas, such as:
- Communication and public education.
- Transport and environment.
- Urban planning and infrastructure.
- Medical and social care.
- Approaches at Community level.
- Sports and recreation.
And together their goal was to create a culture of walking by developing better kiosks that support ease and convenience.
The way of counseling patients about physical exercise became a topic in medical schools. The Daily Mile encouraged 1,000 schools to help each student walk, run or run a mile a day, increased funding for active transport programs, including doubling the infrastructure funding for the same, #SoMe lever to share the encouragement and information to the public, and common walking programs were launched at national level.
Now before you get really excited, the bar was low to start with which the increase in walking represented the self-reported walk of at least 30 minutes for recreation once a month but at least it's a start.
Changing behavior requires more than education itself and a good reason for this, it also requires change in social rules and culture as well as in environmental engineering. It is clear that there are many things to do in Scotland and elsewhere, but it is nice to see that these needles could be really mobile.
Photo by Kim Traynor [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons