In early May 2012 my travels took me to London, one of the great cities in the world. I was there to speak at the annual Jephcott Symposium organized by the Royal Society of Medicine. This year’s symposium was created as a celebration of the 2012 London Olympic Games. I was there to talk about the importance of exercise to health and the audience was very receptive to this message.
There were several former Olympic Gold medalists in the audience, including Sir Steve Redgrave, who won five Gold Medals in consecutive Olympic Games from 1984 thru 2000. What an amazing accomplishment, especially in light of the fact that Sir Steve was diagnosed with diabetes shortly before the 2000 Olympic games and still won Gold! He talked about how exercise helps him stay healthy today and how he was able to compete and win despite this disease.
My talk highlighted the lifelong importance of exercise and sports to staying healthy and that you do not have to be an Olympic athlete to get these benefits. Of course I talked about why everybody just needs to walk and shared some of the videos and content from the Every Body Walk! Website. The audience seemed to love the material and message from the campaign.
Do you know that non-communicable diseases (that is diseases not caused by infections) are now the leading causes of death around the world? It’s not TB or AIDS or hunger that kills the most people, it is now chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. These are all diseases that walking can help and that is why I am so passionate about getting everyone around the world to walk!
I am always amazed at how universal the message about walking is. No matter what country I visit, experts there agree that the best and most simple thing we can do for our health is to walk 30 minutes at a brisk pace, five or more days each week. That is why I am convinced that inactivity is the biggest, yet most easily solved public health problem of our time. You see, walking is the most affordable and effective medication we have to improve world health.
Of course I took the chance to go for some great walks during my visit. London is a very walkable city and the parks are my favorite place to walk. My hotel was only a few blocks from The Regent’s Park and I really enjoyed going for long walks there every day.
I hope you are well and please, everybody keep walking!