Don’t forget that exercise and effort are so personal

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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Inactivity is, according to health experts, causing as many deaths as smoking.

Apparently surfing the sofa night after night is as bad for your health as cancer-inducing tobacco, regardless of whether, while on that sofa, you eat a bowl of fruit or a bag of chips.

Pretty shocking stuff.

Now the nice people at the National Institute for Clinical Excellence say that if we have to make a journey of about a mile, whether to work or the shop, we should leave the car behind and walk instead.

That’s fine. I had to have my car serviced the other day and decided to run the 3.5 miles from the garage to my parents’ house.

I didn’t have to carry anything other than a front door key, and it was a nice, crisp, autumnal day.

So I found it easy to follow NICE’s advice, not that I realised I was doing so at the time.

But when issues with my car took a turn for the frustrating, I risked being stranded miles from work, miles from home and with no way to get anywhere quickly.

It got me thinking that I rely too much on my car.

I live in it, figuratively speaking, and rely on it to get me to work, to meet people for my job, to go to the shops, and to see my friends who are scattered around Portsmouth and littered carelessly across the country.

Even though I’m fairly active, I’ll take the car to the supermarket two miles away rather than try to work out how I could walk back carrying a week’s worth of food shopping without breaking the eggs or spraining both my wrists.

And I’m a fairly healthy person who doesn’t have children who would also have to come with me.

It’s all very well telling us we should walk a mile, but surely one mile for one person could feel like scaling Everest for another.

I applaud any scheme that makes cycling and walking easier and safer to do.

But exercise and effort is a very personal thing and generalisations shouldn’t be made by health bodies, no matter how NICE they are.