What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

My wife Beth and I enjoyed a walk around West Wycombe and Downley with the Ramblers this morning. In the course of it, Beth (a GP) mentioned the video 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

It’s an astonishing fact that we have become so sedentary that it is thought proper we should be taxed in order to fund public health measures as simple as this:

Walking is a fantastic way to get out and about, meet new people, improve your health and wellbeing and help the environment.

It’s quite true of course. We were delighted to spend time with everyone this morning discussing subjects from rights of way and health to welfare, the financial system and the causes of war.

As ever, people expressed a strong preference for representatives who do not slavishly obey their party whip. The essay I mentioned, which demonstrates how little has changed over 130 years in the conflict between public opinion, party policy and the individual conscience of the representative, was Auberon Herbert’s A Politician in Sight of Haven:

“What course is open to a man,” he asked, “who wishes, above all, to be honest and to speak the truth; who wishes neither himself to be corrupted nor to corrupt the people; who has no desire to preserve any privileges for the richer classes, but yet will not go one step beyond what he believes to be just in gaining favor of the masses? The common theory of modern government seems to be that we have given power to the people, and therefore, whatever may be our own opinions, we must acquiesce in their wishes. We may dexterously pare a little off here and there, at this or at that point, but, having placed power in their hands, we must accept and act upon their views. Should it happen that we can add a little semispontaneous enthusiasm on our own account, why, so much the better. Now, with this theory I cannot come to terms. I stick at the old difficulty. Shall a man look first and foremost to his own sense of what is right, or shall he follow his party?”

As I said this morning, my policy is to do what I think right in all the circumstances, recognising that there is always disagreement about what that is. We muddle on.

The Ramblers’ Manifesto for a Walking Britain is here. Promoting walking was one of the first things I was asked to do after the election and the County Council’s Simply Walk programme continues. I remain surprised it is necessary to promote something so obviously a good idea as walking.

So, can you limit your sitting and sleeping to just 23 1/2 hours a day?

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