viernes, 11 de marzo de 2016

How cities can encourage exercise

This is a very interesting video from The Economist about how changes to our everyday routines can greatly improve our health and wellbeing.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and answer the questions below.

1 What reduction of deaths among normal-weight people can a brisk 20-minute daily walk have?
2 How many people around the world die because of inactivity?
3 Are street vendors beneficial or harmful for us?
4 What plans about the use of cars are Milan and Dublin preparing?
5 What distance should all citizens in a city travel by bike to get two thirds of the population doing the right amount of exercise they need?
6 How much is the percentage of cyclists growing in London every year?
7 How long does a quarter of British adults walk daily?

Lack of physical activity is the fourth biggest killer in the world. Some studies reckon that sitting for too long is worse to health than smoking. Even small amounts of exercise have enormous health benefits. A brisk 20-minute daily walk can reduce death among people of a normal weight by 25% and among obese people by 16%. But only one tenth of adults in Europe manage this and the problem doesn’t just affect rich countries.
Of the 3.2 million deaths a year caused by inactivity, 2.6 million are in low and middle income countries. Cities tend to be home for the most sedentary people, and therefore have higher rates of these kinds of deaths. What can they do to make their populations more active?
First, make streets more welcoming places to be. Some cities are taking steps by encouraging street vendors whose stalls make streets busier and thus less susceptible to theft and crime. Citywide speed limits of 20 miles per hour and safer intersections will make roads more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly. Closing areas to cars all together at certain times also incentivizes people to get out and about. In Colombia’s capital, Bogota, and the Indian city of Gwalior large areas are cordoned off every week freeing up space for pedestrians, cyclists and exercises classes.
Similar schemes have now spread to North America and Europe, and Dublin and Milan recently unveiled plans to ban cars from their city centers altogether.
Next, bring in the bikes. If all journey of less than two kilometres were done on foot and all trips of two to eight kilometres done on bikes the number of people the number of people who’d get enough exercise just by transporting themselves would rise from one fifth to two thirds, according to a study by London’s Transport Authority.
Bike-sharing gives commuters the option of cycling without having to own, maintain and lock up their own bike. Bicycle superhighways, multi-lane bike paths separate from traffic are cropping up in major cities, including London, where the number of cyclists is growing by ten percent every year.
Last, make public transport more user-friendly. A quarter of British adults currently walk for less than nine minutes a day. The short walks to public transport requires could help add up to a healthier life style. In India, areas surrounding subway stations have been designed to give pedestrians lots of wider, easier ways to get into the station. It doesn’t cost much to make this kind of change.
Doing away with our sedentary habits will save twice as many lives as eliminating obesity. Despite this, the level of inactivity continues to rise around the world.