Macmillan and The Ramblers join forces and pledge to get people walking

More people will be encouraged to get on their feet and get walking thanks to a new partnership between leading charities, Public Health Minister Anne Milton announced today.

Macmillan Cancer Support and The Ramblers have taken over the reigns of the national Walking for Health scheme from Natural England, that already has seen 75,000 people across England walk the equivalent of 400 times around the world.

A new Responsibility Deal pledge from the two charities was also unveiled.  Macmillan Cancer Support and The Ramblers have pledged to significantly increase the numbers of people who are active through the scheme.  They will work with Local Authorities, the NHS and others to increase the number of local walks and the numbers of walkers.

The latest phase of the scheme will also look at getting cancer survivors and those who are least active involved in walks.

Being active offers huge benefits but less than 40 % of people do enough.  And the older people get, the less they do – in England, less than 20 % of over 65s meet recommended levels of 2.5 hours a week.  Not being active costs the NHS across the UK £1.06 billion a year and £5.5 billion in lost productivity from sickness absence.

Speaking at a launch event this morning, Public Health Minister Anne Milton and Environment Minister Richard Benyon outlined plans to increase the number of local walks and walkers.

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said:

“Being active can help us stay healthy, by protecting against heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Walking is one of the easiest ways to build physical activity into our lives.

“This partnership between the Ramblers and Macmillan will see even more people realise the health benefits of walking – building on the great work that has seen Walking for Health participants walking the equivalent of 400 times around the world since 2000.”

Ramblers Chief Executive Benedict Southworth said: 

“We are delighted to be taking on Walking for Health and look forward to this exciting new opportunity to bring the benefits of walking to even more people.  Walking is the easiest and most accessible form of physical activity and can make a real difference to people’s health and well being, particularly at a time when so many of us are much less active than we should be. We are particularly pleased to be working with another great charity, Macmillan Cancer Support.”

Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support Ciarán Devane said:

“Macmillan is excited to be working in partnership with the Ramblers to ensure that Walking for Health continues to grow. Together we can increase opportunities for people to become more active, whether it is because they have cancer, some other condition, or just want to be healthy.

“For people living with cancer, being active can help manage some of the debilitating consequences of treatment.  Exercise can even help reduce the chance of some cancers coming back.”

Chair of the Responsibility Deal Physical Activity network Fred Turok said:

“I very much welcome this excellent pledge from Macmillan Cancer Support and The Ramblers to get more people up and out and walking as part of the Responsibility Deal.

“It will see the successful Walking for Health programme transfer to the voluntary sector with ambitious expansion plans– giving greater opportunities for more people to be active through walking.

“These charities will bring their expertise and experience working with communities to deliver this commitment and with a particular focus on the least active and those people living with and beyond cancer. The potential health and wellbeing benefits are huge.”

Though Macmillan and the Ramblers will be working together to improve opportunities for people affected by cancer to participate in health walks, Walking for Health will remain open to everyone as it is now.

Walks are usually short, on easy terrain and are free and open to everyone, and can be found on www.walkingforhealth.org.uk

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