Take the hard path to good health: Walkways lined with obstacles will make a constitutional stroll even more beneficial, study shows
- Doctors say simple stroll does not cause any significant increase in heart rate
- Adding obstacles can turn a stroll into a good workout and help bone density
- 80% of study’s participants said they would choose challenge over easy route
Creating footpaths featuring obstacles – such as balance beams and stepping stones – could help improve overall health, a study suggests.
Doctors say a simple stroll doesn’t cause any significant increase in heart rate, and walking also doesn’t improve balance or bone density. But adding obstacles can turn a stroll into a good workout.
The study involving 600 UK residents asked how likely people are to pick a more challenging route over a conventional one – nearly 80 per cent said they would. The findings, published in the journal Landscape Research, show that active landscape routes in urban areas could help tackle an ‘inactivity pandemic’.
Doctors say a simple stroll doesn’t cause any significant increase in heart rate, and walking also doesn’t improve balance or bone density. However, adding obstacles can turn a stroll into a good workout. [File image]
Lead author Dr Anna Boldina, of Cambridge University’s department of architecture, said: ‘Even when the increase in activity level is modest, those differences can have a major positive impact on public health.
Creating footpaths featuring obstacles such as stepping stones could help improve overall health, a study suggests. Pictured: People using stepping stones in Box Hill, Surrey in March 2021
Pedestrians can be nudged into a wider range of physical activities through minor changes to the urban landscape.’
The NHS recommends doing at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity over a week.
Additionally, adults over 65 are advised to perform strength, flexibility and balance exercises to keep fit.
Dr Boldina said: ‘The human body is a very complex machine that needs a lot of things to keep working effectively.
‘To improve cardiovascular health, bone density and balance all at once, we need to add a wider range of exercises into our routine daily walks.’