I’ve never met a soul who wants more traffic. We often curse as we sit in a queue knowing full-well we are also the queue. Could our own health persuade us to leave our gleaming chariots at home? 

So, why not walk? It’s slower. 

Is that a waste of time? No, it is not.

The health benefits of walking are truly staggering. Twenty-two minutes of daily, moderate exercise reduces the risks of dementia, stroke, cancer, diabetes, heart and lung diseases, depression, osteoporosis, falls and high blood pressure by up to 50 per cent. Yes 50 per cent!

The best forms of exercise are those that fit into everyday life. All this is from the British Medical Association. Daily exercise is the miracle cure.

Our lives are full of actions and tasks. Walking is something else. The Lightning Seeds sing that they need “to find the time for the life of riley”. Shpongle think “Nothing is something worth doing”. Oasis strung a decent song or two together, including “The importance of being idle”. I think they are talking about not doing tasks.

Walking is an enforced break in the task list and yet we are doing something. How did you get to town? I walked.

Personally, I have some great ideas as I walk. As a teenager walking home from the party with friends could be the best bit! It’s time for good, awkward, or interesting conversations with others.

As we walk, we are claiming our territory, owning the streets. We are walking security patrols reassuring others. We’re meeting people and nurturing relations. 

Our bodies are singing (well maybe!), gently being kept supple. Our minds are playing with ideas and tossing them our way. Are these things deserving of our time? Yes!

Imagine that everyone spontaneously decided to walk whenever they possibly could.

Pollution falls. Local businesses earn more money (pedestrians spend more money). When you need to drive there would never be a traffic jam. Our physical health improves. We get time to think, and our minds thank us for it. 

Haslemere Active Travel wants to make walking around the town as easy as possible. Tell us what is stopping you from walking. Let’s live longer and happier. Let’s walk.

By Alastair Bayliss

Chair, Haslemere Active Travel

Haslemere Climate and Biodiversity Partnership