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Walking can help fight depression

2nd November 2005

Taking a walk can help protect against depression, the UK's leading sustainable transport charity claims.

Sustrans says at least one in six people suffer from mental health problems at any one time, with treatment costing the NHS £3.8 billion annually, but some of this could be avoided with physical activity.

Research from the charity shows regular physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of developing clinical depression and can also help reduce symptoms in people diagnosed as moderately or mildly depressed.

Sustrans' are currently conducting a Pedal Back The Years programme which gives people the chance to reap the benefits of exercise by walking and cycling.

"I’ve been suffering from depression for a long time and I need a lot of support in everything I do… I find that the exercise, fresh air, company and change of scenery are always helpful with my depression and I’m always glad I made the effort to go along when I’m feeling down," a participant in the Pedal Back The Years project said.

Philip Insall, director of Sustrans’ Active Travel programme urges health, transport and planning specialists to work together on more activity-friendly environments.

"We must now work with all parts of government to make towns and cities more activity-friendly and so more protective of mental well-being," he said.