There’s nothing I like more than a report which reaffirms exactly what I already believe, but with numbers. And this week, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers have provided exactly that. “Walking Works” is the title of their study, which is probably what you can expect when you get ramblers to pay for a research project. But never mind the potential bias: of course walking works. Walking is the most fun you can have in sensible shoes, and those are the only kind I like.
According to their report, it’s also a life-saver, helping us fight off heart disease, various cancers, strokes and type 2 diabetes. All that from something which also gets you to and from work, or the shops, or the park. That’s another reason to love a walk: unlike most exercise it has a secondary purpose. It gets you somewhere you need to be anyway, and it saves you from getting travel sick on the bus. Tell that to those poor saps cycling away on stationary bikes at the gym, like so many hamsters in wheels.
Walking is the best way to learn a city (ideally by day, until you know which routes are too murdery after sunset). It takes very little time to find the back streets which have less traffic and pollution, and if it means you turn up everywhere with slightly mussed hair and pink cheeks: so be it. Mr Darcy liked Elizabeth when she turned up with muddied hems and glowing skin, and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for the rest of us.
The most shocking statistic in this report is not the headline figure (that 37,000 deaths could be prevented each year if we were all more active). It's that a third of us don’t even manage 30 minutes of exercise each week. Try as I might, I can’t understand this. Who are these people and why do they never need to leave the house? I suppose if you drive to work and there’s a car park right next to your office and you buy groceries online and have a flat on the ground floor, you might just manage it. But a third of us?
I walk because it’s how I like to commute, and if I don’t, I get sad and I can’t think: my brain works best at 3mph. When it comes to walking, I’m with Kierkegaard, who said: “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it... thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.” The Ramblers couldn’t have put it better themselves.
Good news for Whovians
A heart-warming tale for Whovians anxiously polishing their Tardises in time for the Doctor’s 50th anniversary next month: lost episodes of Patrick Troughton-era Doctor Who are going on sale this week, having been found (rather like a rare breed of wildebeest) in Africa.
The BBC has an ignoble history of wiping its master copies of early television shows, thinking no one would ever want to see them again, certainly not decades later, for money. But every now and then, someone tracks down a dusty cardboard box stuffed with old tapes, and a lost treasure is rediscovered, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style. So here’s hoping there’s a staff of Ra somewhere which will lead an archaeologist to the 100 or so episodes still missing.