Andrew Murray: Leave the car behind

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WALKING is a basic human function and serves many useful roles for us. My one-year-old daughter Nina is taking her first steps. Just think about how significant those first landmark steps we take are – it’s a momentous occasion which opens up the world to us. Essentially it’s the gate to freedom, independence and exploration. It’s a little strange then that these days, as a nation, we seem to be determined to walk as little as possible. Or is it just that we have got out of the habit?

Nowadays, few of us choose to walk even short journeys like a trip to the shops, dropping the kids off at school or going up to the park. We jump in our cars, sit in traffic and more often than not get stressed about finding a parking space.

It seems that walking just doesn’t get the respect it deserves anymore – be that for its health benefits, its cost-effectiveness or its role in making our country a better place to be.

A wise man once said that walking is a man’s best medicine and I only wish I’d had the opportunity to shake his hand. Regular walking is so good for you. It can protect against a number of illnesses, help you stay in shape, sleep well and it’s great for your mental health too. It can also be really easy to fit in your day. That’s why I’m backing the Scottish Government’s latest Greener #walktaework campaign, which is calling on Scots to leave the car behind for those short journeys and get their walking shoes on.

So, let’s do it. Let’s rekindle our love of walking. It was once after all, the most exciting thing to be able to do. Why not try leaving the car more often and make walking part of your daily life?

Walk to work, walk to the shops, walk to your friend’s house which is just up the road. Why not even try getting off the bus stop a few stops before if your journey is longer? And you can also take the stairs instead of the lift.

Dr Andrew Murray is a GP, a sports and exercise doctor with the University of Edinburgh, and is currently the president of Ramblers Scotland.