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Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the studies conducted by him into the health benefits of walking in the last six years. [126547]

Regular walking can help in the maintenance of a healthy weight as well as helping to prevent and manage heart disease.Many studies have been carried out on the health benefits of walking. The Department is presently undertaking a review of the evidence for the relationship between physical activity and health, which will be concerned with the full range of human activity from competitive sport and exercise to walking, cycling, dancing or activity as part of work. We hope to publish the results of the review at the end of the year to support enhanced public health efforts to promote regular physical activity.Further evidence of the benefits of regular physical activity, including walking, will emerge from the forthcoming local exercise action pilots (LEAP) that are being developed with Sport England and the Countryside Agency. The LEAP programme will test different evidence based community approaches to increasing access to, and the levels of physical activity, with a particular focus on hard to reach and at risk groups. Walking will be a feature of several of the LEAP pilots and will be included in the evaluation of the whole programme.