MBT

MBT

December 17, 2009 09:00 ET

The Family Walk-A Dying Tradition Around the World?

- 52% of families admit they walk less than they did 10 years ago -

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Dec. 17, 2009) - Researchers from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Science at Loughborough University in the UK, are today encouraging families worldwide to take more regular exercise together in the New Year following concerning research(i) that shows two thirds of people across the globe are not walking together as a family (68%) with the Portuguese being the least likely (71%) and Austrians (63%) most likely to walk together.

According to international research commissioned by urban walking specialist MBT the traditional 'promenade' or 'paseo' is on the decline with over half of respondents globally (52%) reporting they walk less than they did 10 years ago citing lack of interest from other family members (45%); too little time (43%); lack of information about where to walk (39%); tiredness (38%) and poor motivation (33%) as the main barriers. Likewise the increase in more sedentary activity is seen to be a contributory factor with families choosing to spend their time together for mealtimes (80%), sitting around talking (66%) and/or watching TV (53%).

However, the festive period is still the most conducive to families walking together with 69% of respondents working off the Xmas excess with the Austrians again and Germans (equals 86%) most likely to do so and the Spanish (56%) and Americans (58%) least likely to do so. Likewise, being healthier, getting fresh air (equals 73%) and enjoying the weather (65%) were reported as motivators for families to walk more regularly together.

Dr Stacy Clemes, Lecturer in Human Biology, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Science at Loughborough University comments: "Lack of physical activity is widely documented across the world as a major risk factor for many chronic diseases. Despite walking being described as an ideal form of exercise(1) it is concerning to see families worldwide not using this cheap and effective form of exercise to promote their family's health."

Walking is an inclusive activity, allowing families to share a common interest and spend quality time in the fresh air(2). It is also worth noting that increasing physical activity through walking would have an impact on global obesity figures, as well as providing a free alternative to the gym".

Matthias Schneider, certified sports scientist and member of the MBT Academy International comments: "According to the research we commissioned in conjunction with Loughborough University, an average of 36% of participants also reported that their footwear was uncomfortable. This prevents them from walking regularly because they were concerned about damaging their feet. At MBT, we are encouraging people to kick off the next decade committed to being more active. Simply by walking in MBTs you can tone core muscles, improve posture and balance and increase calorie burn."

TOP WINTER WALKING TIPS

1. Wear the right gear - Cold winter weather means you need to dress warm but as you heat up with exercise you'll need breathable layers which keep the heat in but release moisture. High tech materials allow this and don't forget if you're walking in the dark to add in reflective components or LED lights so you're visible.

2. Wear the right shoes - Your shoes are the foundation of your body and so, are the most important piece of kit for the walker or runner. MBT - the anti shoe - gives you the perfect walking shoe with unparalleled benefits to posture, core stability and joint protection. And the waterproof Gore Tex models keep your feet warm and dry.

3. Warm up and cool down - Start walking slowly building up your heart and breathing rate until you feel you are walking at a moderate pace. You should be able to carry on a conversation without getting short of breath but still feel you are working. At the end of your walk, reduce your pace and then stretch the main muscles of your legs - the calves, thighs and hamstrings (back of the thighs).

4. Push yourself - For a more advanced walk, try speeding up and slowing down for distances of one hundred meters. At your top speed, you should feel like any faster and you'd have to run.

5. Warm down - Afterwards, remember to rehydrate with water and keep active by moving frequently throughout the day. If you have a desk job, get up at least once an hour to stretch your joints and change your posture.

6. Get company - Walk with a friend or as part of a group to stay motivated and on track with your program.

7. Chose your location well - Find a place you enjoy or use your walk to explore new areas.

BENEFITS OF WALKING:

1. By now, most people know the benefits of regular exercise to the heart and lungs (the 'cardiovascular system') but walking has additional benefits.

2. Walking can help to ward off SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) otherwise known as the 'winter blues'. Exercise helps to elevate mood enhancing and sleep regulating chemicals in the body so not only to you get fit but you feel happier and sleep better.

3. Weight bearing exercise helps to strengthen the muscles and to build stronger bones, helping to keep you healthier and active for longer.

4. Walking is social - joining a walking club or finding a friend or family member to walk with is a great way to stay motivated to stick with a program of regular exercise and makes the walking into a fun occasion instead of a chore.

5. Relieves stress. We all experience stress in our lives and the effects on the body are cumulative endangering our health and well being. Cardiovascular exercise such as walking has a detoxifying effect by burning off the harmful stress-chemicals which build up in our bodies.

6. Green transportation. Not only is walking free but it has zero environmental impact!

(i) Survey conducted on 5236 individuals from across Europe and the US by researchers within the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Science at Loughborough University.

(1) - Morris and Hardman 1997

(2) - National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) 2006

About MBT:

The patented sole construction of MBT physiological footwear simulates walking barefoot on soft, natural grounds, thus activating the very important small muscles throughout the body. This strengthens the muscles involved in support and posture, relieves the strain on the joints, shapes the body and speeds up the metabolism. MBT can help to relieve back and joint pain, improve the figure, increase sporting performance or keep you comfortable during a long day on your feet. The effectiveness of MBT has been proven by numerous studies at leading universities. It is a registered medical product in Switzerland and in the EU and is covered by health insurance in many countries. MBT was developed in Switzerland in 1998 and is now worn by millions of people in over 30 countries. More information on www.mbt.com.

MBT Survey: International Comparisons

The Death of the Family Walk

Table 1. The numbers of participants completing the MBT survey from each country, along with the gender proportions from each country.


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                                                    Gender proportion
                                Sample
                                  size          Males               Females
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UK                                1272             24                    76
USA                               1190             22                    78
Spain                              917             34                    66
Germany                            869             34                    66
Italy                              745             45                    55
Portugal                           139             36                    64
Austria                            104             53                    47
Overall                           5236             31                    69
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 2. The percentage of participants falling within each age category.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Age distributions
                                18-24     25-29       30-39   40-49     50+
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UK                                 12        12          27      23      26
USA                                13        13          22      18      34
Spain                               3         6          35      34      23
Germany                             4        12          31      30      23
Italy                               2         6          31      35      26
Portugal                            8        17          36      23      17
Austria                             9        17          36      20      18
Overall                             8        11          29      27      26
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 3. The percentage of participants falling within each category of marital status.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Marital status
                                                                  Separated/
                                                                   divorced/
                                Single   Married   Co-habiting      widowed
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UK                                  30        45            17            8
USA                                 31        52             8            9
Spain                               29        53            11            7
Germany                             23        50            21            6
Italy                               23        55            13            9
Portugal                            41        40            11            8
Austria                             34        45            16            5
Overall                             28        50            14            8
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 4. The percentage of participants reporting living with children under the age of 18 years.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Presence of children
                                             Yes                         No
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UK                                            30                         70
USA                                           51                         49
Spain                                         37                         63
Germany                                       28                         72
Italy                                         38                         62
Portugal                                      33                         67
Austria                                       31                         69
Overall                                       37                         63
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 5. The proportion of participants who perceive themselves to be very active/active, somewhat active and/or inactive/very inactive.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Perceived activity level
                                       Very       Somewhat     Inactive/very
                              active/active         active          inactive
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UK                                       52             37                11
USA                                      56             35                 9
Spain                                    73             24                 3
Germany                                  53             40                 7
Italy                                    50             27                23
Portugal                                 54             38                 9
Austria                                  65             29                 6
Overall                                  57             33                10
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Main findings:

Table 6. The proportion of participants who report going for an intentional walk (for at least 10 minutes) during their leisure time.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                     Do you ever go for an intentional walk?
                                                    Yes                  No
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UK                                                   80                  20
USA                                                  72                  28
Spain                                                74                  26
Germany                                              63                  37
Italy                                                66                  34
Portugal                                             72                  28
Austria                                              63                  37
Overall                                              72                  28
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 7. The proportion of participants who agreed with the following statements regarding what motivates them to go for a walk (participants could select more than one statement).


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
What motivates you to
 go for a walk?         UK USA Spain Germany Italy Portugal Austria Overall
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
To be healthy           62  80    80      70    78       82      72      73
It is the easiest way
 to get to places       38  27    39      28    31       40      30      33
To spend time with
 friends                17  19    13      22    15       13      17      17
To spend time with
 family                 17  21    18      27    15        8      41      19
To walk a pet (e.g.
 Dog)                   16  30    17      22    15       14      20      20
To get fresh air        70  81    65      92    51       74      92      73
To see the outdoors     50  67    47      71    31       52      69      54
To enjoy the weather    59  78    57      74    49       68      70      65
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 8. The proportion of participants reporting walking alone, with colleagues, family and/or friends.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              Who do you normally walk with?
                                                With          With     With
                                   Alone  colleagues        Family  Friends
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UK                                    66          12            39       27
USA                                   80          13            35       25
Spain                                 63           9            45       20
Germany                               69          12            55       31
Italy                                 71           9            38       28
Portugal                              84          13            29       25
Austria                               59          11            63       31
Overall                               70          11            42       26
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 9. The percentage of participants who report walking more now than they did 10 years ago.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                             Do you walk more now than you did 10 years ago?
                                                    Yes                  No
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UK                                                   55                  45
USA                                                  50                  50
Spain                                                46                  54
Germany                                              45                  55
Italy                                                40                  60
Portugal                                             38                  62
Austria                                              47                  53
Overall                                              48                  52
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 10. The proportion of participants who agreed with the following statements regarding why they do less walking now than they did 10 years ago (participants could select more than one statement).


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Why do you think you do
 less walking now?      UK USA Spain Germany Italy Portugal Austria Overall
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Not enough time         38  44    41      40    52       52      51      43
It is easier to use
 other transport        32  25    18      39    18       45      25      27
I have changed job or
 moved house and can no
 longer walk to work    25  17    11      19    17       24      13      18
I have a family now and
 do not have enough
 time                   16  15    19      13    19       20      16      16
Health problems prevent
 me from walking        13  17    10      22     7        4      11      13
My neighbourhood isn't
 safe to walk in         4   6     1       1     1        4       0       3
I do not enjoy walking   5   5    10       6     2        2      13       6
I experience aches and
 pains when walking     22  29    18      23    16        6      16      21
I do not have anybody
 to walk with            9  13     9       8     5       21       7       9
There is nowhere nice
 near me to go walking   8   8     3       3     4        9       2       5
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 11. The proportion of participants who agreed with the following statements regarding barriers towards walking (participants could select more than one statement).


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Barriers to walking     UK USA Spain Germany Italy Portugal Austria Overall
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
I do not have enough
 free time to walk in my
 leisure time           44  47    39      32    47       34      28      42
I do not feel safe
 enough walking in my
 local area             22  19     8       7    13       15       1      14
I do not like to get
 hot and sweaty         28  29    32      22    23       16      15      27
I do not have enough
 will power/motivation
 to keep walking
 regularly              37  12    46      40    37       28      29      33
I do not think that my
 health and wellbeing
 will benefit from
 walking                 6  38     7      11     4        5      11      14
I do not enjoy walking  11   5    25      15    11        4      17      13
I would walk more if
 friends/family were
 willing to walk with
 me                     56  12    60      53    46       67      49      45
I would be more
 physically active if I
 knew where the most
 appropriate walks for
 me were                39  61    38      20    33       43      11      39
My health problems
 prevent me from
 walking                16  33    14      23    17        1      10      20
I worry about injuring
 myself or getting sore
 from walking           14  19    17      15     6                8      14
I feel too tired after
 work to be active/go
 for a walk             45  15    44      50    46               38      38
Walking takes too much
 time away from other
 commitments like work,
 family, etc.           36  46    34      36    35       22      32      37
My footwear is
 uncomfortable when I
 walk                   34  35    45      30    38       36      17      36
I worry about how I
 will look when I walk
 in public              10  41    20      10     6        3       7      18
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 12. The proportion of participants who report conducting the following activities when they get together with their close family (participants could select more than one statement).


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
What do you do when you
 get together with close
 family?                UK USA Spain Germany Italy Portugal Austria Overall
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Watch TV                58  56    42      59    42       70      53      53
Eat a meal              89  86    69      82    62       82      82      80
Sit and talk            80  76    51      78    31       67      80      66
Play computer/console
 games                  12  12     7      11    13       14       7      11
Go out for a walk       49  36    47      53    38       29      51      44
Go out for a bike ride  14  11    14      27    14       12      24      16
Go to the pub           25  15    13      11     3       34       5      15
Go shopping             49  45    38      46    32       62      42      43
Go to the cinema        26  29    33      18    18       29      17      25
Play board/card games   19  28    13      26     7        9      21      19
Play active games (e.g.
 cricket, football,
 rounders etc.)         11   9    14      11     3   4           17      10
----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table 13. The proportion of participants who report walking with their family at Christmas time.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Do you walk with family at Christmas?
                                                    Yes                  No
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UK                                                   75                  25
USA                                                  58                  42
Spain                                                56                  44
Germany                                              86                  14
Italy                                                68                  32
Portugal                                             64                  36
Austria                                              86                  14
Overall                                              69                  31
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