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Walking: a best buy for public and planetary health
  1. Fiona C Bull1,2,
  2. Adrianne E Hardman3
  1. 1Surveillance and Population-based Prevention, Prevention of Noncommunicable Disease, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2School of Human Science, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  3. 3Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Fiona C Bull, Surveillance and Population based Prevention, Prevention of Non communicable Disease, World Health Organization, Geneve 1211, Switerland; bullf{at}who.int

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This special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine marks the 21st anniversary of the publication of the seminal review paper Walking to Health by Morris and Hardman, which presented an elegant synthesis of the health benefits of walking, a broad and complex field of scientific enquiry.1 It concisely summarised the extensive physiological, metabolic and other health-related impacts of different patterns of walking across all ages, and also positioned this knowledge in the wider context of national public health efforts by providing practical and policy-relevant recommendations. The simplicity of its title reflects its core finding—walking is good for health. At all ages, for primary and secondary prevention, to save healthcare costs, for individuals to live their lives with the full potential of good health, to create better communities and to improve the environment, walking offers a solution.

Providing guidance on how to use science in practical actions and to inform public policy may seem very contemporary, and for some an uncomfortable necessity, but communicating science so it could inform policy was a hallmark of the authors’ contribution to their respective fields of social epidemiology and exercise science. Those new to this field are encouraged to find time to read the original paper, in particular to see just how much we already knew back then. In 1997 as a final-year doctorate student, the first author (FCB) distinctly recalls the arrival of this review article by way of a library request. Back then, and certainly in Australia, not all journal articles were as readily available as they are today. Reading it was both rewarding and reinforcing because integrating the discipline of exercise science with the field …

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