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22 Aug 2022

Walking and cycling will now be available on prescription in parts of the UK
BY Tom Walker

The investment allows GPs to offer walking and cycling sessions

The investment allows GPs to offer walking and cycling sessions
photo: Shutterstock.com/Monkey Business Images

Eleven local authority areas in England are sharing £12.7m as part of a multi-year funding programme to deliver social prescriptions for walking and cycling.

The investment allows GPs to offer exercise sessions as part of a new trial to improve mental and physical health and reduce health disparities across the country.

Announced today (22 August), the funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) will go towards pilot projects in each of 11 locations.

Sessions include adult cycle training, free bike loans, walking groups, and all-ability cycling taster days - where people who may not have cycled before can try it in a friendly environment, as well as walking and cycling mental health groups, where people can connect with their communities as they get active.

According to DfT, the pilots must be delivered alongside improved infrastructure, so people feel safe to cycle and walk.

Walking and Cycling Minister, Trudy Harrison, said:  "Walking and cycling offer so many benefits – from improving air quality in our communities to reducing congestion on our busiest streets.

"It also has an enormous positive impact on physical and mental health, which is why we've funded these projects to get people across the country moving and ease the burden on our NHS."

The pilots will be delivered between 2022 and 2025 with ongoing monitoring and evaluation to support continued learning.

The 11 local authority areas that will trial social prescriptions are Bath and North East Somerset, Bradford, Cornwall, Cumbria, Doncaster, Gateshead, Leeds, Nottingham, Plymouth, Suffolk and Staffordshire.

National Active Travel Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said: "As a nation we need healthier, cheaper and more pleasant ways to get around for everyday trips.

"Active Travel England’s mission is to ensure millions of people nationwide can do just that – so it’s easier to leave the car at home and to enjoy the benefits that come with it.

"Moving more will lead to a healthier nation, a reduced burden on the NHS, less cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well as huge cost savings.

"This trial aims to build on existing evidence to show how bringing transport, active travel and health together can make a positive impact on communities across England."



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