The’ gender step gap’ may put women at greater risk of exercise-related health problems in later life. Photo: Ed Jones/ AFP/ Getty Images
PhD student Natalie Jester says she sometimes” is like prey” after dark in central Bristol. She will regularly expend her wages on a taxi or bus home to avoid walking in the centre, where she can feel threatened by the groups of men milling about drinking.
” I feel really resentful that I don’t feel safe enough to walk around my city, to the point that I have to pay extra money ,” Jester says.” I don’t think humen actually understand the degree to which females feel unsafe .”
Women may also be paying with their own health. According to Public Health England( PHE ), English people are 20% less active today than they were in the 1960 s- with each person walk-to, on average, 24 km( 15 miles) less per year. And the Stanford researchers found that UK women took 1,074 fewer steps on average than humen every day- adding up to almost 400,000 fewer steps a year.
According to PHE’s One You walking campaign adviser, Professor Sir Muir Gray, this leads to further health inequalities, owing to the sedentary nature of many jobs today.” Poor people … are now often less active than wealthy person, because poor people run more often at these dreadful desk jobs ,” Gray says.” In general, that contributes to the social divide .”
The threat of harassment
Ever since she was assaulted in Semarang, Vivi Restuviani has had to work hard at regaining the confidence to walk in public alone. The few hundred yards she strolled as part of her daily commute in Jakarta, her new home city, used to come with an unwanted chorus. But the cat calls have begun to fade- which she attributes to her new defence weapon: high visibility.
” I have blue hair so I believe the guys that pay attention suppose:’ Oh, the girl with the blue hair always talks back .’ Now when I walk to the develop station , no one dares say anything to me .”
Dea Basori also lives in the sprawling capital of Indonesia- the country whose people stroll the least, in agreement with the Stanford study. On median, females there took 611 fewer steps than humen each day.
But Basori rejects the “lazy” label, saying it is not only Jakarta’s heat, pockmarked roads and poor modes of public transport access that keeps them from strolling. The threat of harassment can, she says, stop women in their tracks.
Every day, the dentistry student navigates a traffic jam so notorious it has its own word in Bahasa: macet . But she says it is the final, five-minute walk to her class that she dreads most.
“It’s just so annoying,” she says of the incessant cat-callers who motivate her to maintain that daily walking as short as possible.” The construction workers, the motorbikes, people in the cars- they all honk. It’s always gonna be there, and it’s less than 100 metres- but I still have to find the motivation to walk … it’s depleting .”
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