02/05/2016 15:37 BST | Updated 30/04/2017 06:12 BST

Why We Should All Be Walking for 20 Minutes This May

Walking - it's such a simple act yet not enough of us are doing it.

Our nation is in the throes of a modern health crisis. The lack of activity in our daily lives is exacerbating the rising tide of long term illness and, increasing social isolation. Now more than ever, finding a way of incorporating exercise into our daily lives is crucial.

For our grandparents' generation, walking everywhere was the norm, but now this is becoming more and more uncommon with people walking a third less today than they did just twenty years ago.

We have become reliant on travelling by car or public transport. Recent research, commissioned by us at Living Streets, revealed that one in 20 people surveyed would opt to drive a journey that takes less than 5 minutes to walk - a frightening statistic indeed.

As our lifestyles become more sedentary, we are becoming increasingly unhealthy as a nation. The amount of people classed as 'obese' is soaring and costing the NHS an estimated £8.2billion* per year, according to a report by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. We need to start moving more if we are to protect the future of the NHS.

That's exactly what Chris from Stevenage decided to do when she wanted to take control of her health after her father developed heart disease. She started walking every day and found that she lost weight and that being active helped with her depression. Chris said, 'As I've got older it's been harder to keep the weight off. Walking helps me to keep my weight consistent. Life being busy as it is, it is really comforting to walk and make time to see the natural things in life. It does not cost anything and helps to relieve pressures and anxieties. I would certainly recommend walking for at least 20 minutes per day to everyone. A small change can make a huge difference."

This National Walking Month we are urging people - particularly those who are middle aged - to follow in Chris's footsteps and Try20. Just walk for 20 minutes a day and wake up to the wonders that walking can do for your health. The NHS recommends that all adults do a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity a week and walking can form part of this - it's easy, accessible and inexpensive. Walking uses more than 200 muscles in your body and can have a lasting impact on your physical and mental health. Despite this, walking as a form of physical activity remains underrated.

For many people the prospect of joining a gym or sports club can be intimidating - and they don't come cheap. This why we recommend walking as an easy next step for those in need of a little bit more exercise in their daily routine. A walk is good for us - just twenty minutes a day is enough to move an individual from being classed as inactive to moderately inactive. It can reduce the risk of preventable illness and social isolation and increase mental wellbeing.

Mike in London has been walking to and from work for five years. He says: "In the last couple of years I've had problems with my bones. The only way for me to exercise and stay healthy is through walking - it's the way forward.

"I used to play football and do boxing but that's no longer possible. So instead of getting the bus to work, I walk a mile in, two miles to and from home for lunch and then a mile home at the end of the day.

"I'd much sooner walk than get the bus now; it gives me time to think. It's my chill out time and saves me about £60 a month on travel fares."

So I urge you all to pledge to Try20 this May. As Mike has shown, you don't need to go out of your way, just make small changes to your normal routine. Try skipping a stop on public transport or park your car that bit further out and walk to work. You could walk your children to school or go on foot to local shops. Even a lunchtime walk in the fresh air can do you the world of good. If you're still not convinced that you can fit 20 minutes of walking in to your day, then pledge to Try20 on the Living Streets website and we'll send you tips on where to squeeze that walk in.

Not only is walking great for your own health, it's better for our planet, your local economy and your own pocket.

This May, pledge to Try20 with us and help us become a walking nation - you'll be amazed at what a walk can do.


Join Chris (pictured) and #Try20