Halloween has come and gone for another year, which means that Christmas is just around the corner. Traditionally this means many of us will spend more than we can afford and eat and drink more than is good for us. The stresses we impose upon ourselves at this time of year (including worrying about increased levels of debt and the effect of eating and drinking too much on our health) often boil over into arguments in families – with a peak in the number of relationship breakups reported in January every year.
People with this view of the Festive season would probably be seen by many as being a bunch of sad Scrooges who would seem to have forgotten what Christmas means in terms of peace and goodwill to all. So what if there was a way of spreading goodwill to all our fellow citizens this Christmas, which dealt with many Scrooge, concerns as well? Maybe there is – and it can cost very little or nothing.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) seeks to improve health and social care through evidence based guidance. It has published estimates of how much premature death and preventable diseases costs the economy (including the NHS) each year:
- Smoking (UK): £13.7 billion
- Alcohol (England): £20 billion
- Being obese or overweight as a result of poor diet or inactivity (UK): £7 billion
- Physical inactivity: £6.5 billion
- Stroke (England): £7 billion
- Diabetes (UK): £8.4 billion
NICE believes that investment in public health campaigns can play an important part in reducing these figures. It has predicted that “based on current trends, around 40% of people living in Britain will be obese by 2025. In today’s money this will cost wider society an estimated £37.2 billion a year. Encouraging people to adopt a healthy diet and be more physically active could prevent this happening.”
So, we can all do something which will benefit our fellow citizens by reducing cost to our economy and make us all healthier. The most important thing for each individual is to do something – never mind how small. For example, walk more if you can – and for as long as it suits you. There is plenty of beautiful, accessible countryside in Waverley – from Hankley Common to Alice Holt – which allows exercise to be a pleasure rather than a chore.
If you prefer to enjoy Alice Holt on a bicycle, watch out for walkers and horses. If you want to cycle on the public highway you should be aware that you could be statistically as much at risk of being injured in an accident as a motorcyclist.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents provides advice on how to be safe on a bike (see http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/pedal-cyclists/advice-for-adults/ )
- choose a bike which is the right size for you on which you are comfortable and confident,
- avoid routes used by heavy and/or fast moving traffic if you are at all nervous of being on such roads,
- ensure your bike is maintained well and regularly serviced,
- wear a suitable cycle helmet and high visibility clothing,
- consider going on a training course (this applies whether you are new to cycling or have cycled previously).
Finally, it is not a legal requirement for cyclists to have insurance although there are policies available which cover bike replacement as well as third party costs. If you are involved in an accident and are uninsured you could be pursued through the courts for recovery of any third party costs.
If you’re worried about anything….
Don’t put it off – Citizens Advice Waverley can almost certainly help.
For free, independent, confidential advice call:
0344 848 7969
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