UK & World News
'Get Out Of Your Car And On Your Bike'
Parking charges should be increased to encourage more people to walk, health officials have suggested.
The advice is part of new guidance from The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), to get more people active.
Health officials have warned the nation's lack of physical activity is a "silent epidemic".
Lack of exercise is as big a threat to health as smoking does but despite this very few people in England take enough exercise.
Strategic and scientific adviser to the National Obesity Observatory Dr Harry Rutter, who worked on the new guidance, said: "Across the population, lack of physical activity causes roughly the same level of ill health that smoking does.
"We all face barriers in changing our lifestyles and many of us feel we don't have the time or the inclination to add regular physical activity into our lives.
"But walking and cycling to work, to school, to the shops or elsewhere can make a huge difference."
He added: "We have a silent epidemic of lack of physical activity and here we have a wonderful opportunity to try and do something about it."
The guidance states that walking and cycling should become the norm for short journeys and should be encouraged in local communities.
Adults should be doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
Local communities should implement schemes to encourage more people to cycle and walk, the guidance states.
These could include "car free days" or cycle-hire schemes - such as the "Boris bike" initiative in London.
But the chief executive of the Tax Payer's Alliance, Matthew Sinclair, said the recommendations showed Nice was out of touch with struggling families.
He told the Daily Mail: "Things are tough enough for taxpayers already without meddling health bureaucrats trying to make parking more expensive.
"For more people using the car is a necessity, not a luxury.
"Parking charges damage the high street, place an unnecessary burden on struggling businesses and make life harder for households just trying to make ends meet."
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