Sydney Morning Herald - Thursday 30 August, 2007

Walk to Work

By Belinda Cranston

The chief organiser of Friday's Walk to Work Day has a warning for us all.

Australians are predicted to be fatter than Americans by 2020, says Harold Scruby, chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia.

If Scruby had his way, we would all be walking to work on a regular basis.

"Making time to walk every day, combined with eating healthy food, will help to prevent this prediction [eventuating]," he says.

This is the walk's ninth year and thousands of Sydneysiders are expected to join in, swapping cars and public transport for sneakers on October 7. Walk to Work Day's aims include easing traffic congestion and addressing environmental concerns, Scruby says.

Results of a survey released earlier this year by Sydney South West Area Health Service show people who drive to work are 13per cent more likely to be overweight or obese than those who walk or catch public transport. The survey, taken from a sample of 6810 respondents across NSW, found driving was the main mode of transport to work (69per cent), followed by public transport (15per cent). Only 7per cent walked, 2per cent cycled and 6per cent worked from home.

People should aim to do least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day, says Dr Chris Rissel, director of health promotion at Sydney South West Area Health Service.

As well as assisting in weight reduction, physical activity can help prevent heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, Rissel says. There is evidence to suggest it can alleviate depression and mental illness.

Tilly Boleyn, science and medicine communication co-ordinator at the Australian Red Cross, expects all employees at her office will take part in Friday's event. If it is too far to walk the entire journey from home to work, she suggests people walk part of the way then get off the bus or train one or two stops earlier than they normally would.

To reward Red Cross employees for hoofing it in, Boleyn says there will be fruit platters, yoghurt and toast for breakfast when they arrive.



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