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Doctors should prescribe walking to improve mental health, says new report

More GPs should prescribe walking to improve mental health and long-term physical health conditions, says a new report published by Living Streets. ‘Is Walking a Miracle Cure?’ focuses on the health benefits of walking and argues that towns and cities designed for walking will significantly improve physical health and mental wellbeing.

The report makes recommendations under ten headings, including an increase in ‘social prescribing’ with an emphasis on walks in parks and green spaces because of growing evidence of the benefits of walking in nature to mental health outcomes; and promoting walking for disabled people or those with long-term health conditions as part of health checks.

Other recommendations include: adopting the Department for Education’s healthy schools rating scheme to increase active travel to and from school; assessing all new housing developments to ensure services, leisure and employment opportunities are within walking distance; and prioritising low traffic neighbourhoods to increase walking and cycling rates.