Aberdeenshire

Kindness within a Community: Combating loneliness and building stronger communities

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Carnegie Trust UK have published their second report looking at loneliness and social isolation and the impact of kinder communities. The report finds kindness is a necessary ingredient of successful communities. However there are major factors that get in the way of engaging and encouraging kindness both in individuals and organisations. Read the report here

Have a healthy Christmas

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Christmas is a time of giving and receiving, spending time with friends and family and maybe overindulging just a little bit?

Here are our top tips to ensure you don’t start 2018 with that sinking feeling of too much Christmas pudding being the final straw;

 

  1. Don’t sit down all day – go for a walk, kick a football about, ride a new bike. Not only will this aid digestion, but help you sleep better too.
  2. Go easy on the booze
  3. Don’t give yourself a Christmas stuffing! Recent research suggests that we consume around 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner – more than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man!
  4. Keep colds at bay
  5. Don’t stress – ’tis the season to be jolly remember
  6. Eat fruit – even the clementine tucked in the bottom of your stocking will boost vitamin C warding coughs and colds.
  7. Do something for others – do you have an elderly neighbour who would love to share some festive spirit?
  8. Engage your brain – play games, do a crossword, not only does this keep your mind active but can be fun for the whole family
Most importantly though, have a happy healthy festive season! 

 

Mexico City’s bike revolution

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It’s an eerily calm Sunday morning on the city’s Avenida Reforma, an avenue which is grid-locked on weekdays by tens of thousands of cars sitting bumper-to-bumper.

The Reforma’s closure to car traffic on Sundays in 2007 kickstarted the capital’s attempts to make life easier for cyclists. In 2010 a 17km-long bike lane through the city opened.

The car still reigns supreme in this metropolis of 22 million people, with more than four million vehicles clogging the roads every day.

Perhaps the biggest factor has been the launch of the so-called Ecobicis (Eco-bikes) in 2010. Following on from similar schemes operating in London, Paris and Barcelona, Mexico City launched a public bike rentals at 90 different sites. Since then, some 30,000 people have joined and there is a waiting list for new members. The Ecobici system is expected to expand to 75,000 users by the end of 2012, with 4,000 more bicycles made available at new sites.

The scheme is not without it’s critics with some of Mexico City’s drivers spending up to four hours a day on their journeys to work, with three separate rush-hours. Some say cyclists have only made matters worse.

One local radio host Angel Verdugo angered bike users when he called on car drivers to run over the cyclists. He said championing the new breed of cyclists was a form of racism. “They want to be like Europeans,” he says. “They believe they are living in Paris and riding along the Champs-Elysees.”

He subsequently made a public apology.

There’s no doubt that Mexico City is for the most part still a car-orientated city but it is also clear that cycling is in the ascendancy. More cycle ways are planned, and public opinion supporting active travel is growing. A car free city is, however, a long way off.

A Nation of Cyclists

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The famous Dutch obsession with bicycles is clearly paying off – a recent study has shown.

While there have been a plethora of studies demonstrating the health benefits of cycling as a means to reduce the risk of sedentary lifestyle diseases and all-cause mortality, the study “Dutch Cycling: Quantifying the Health and Related Economic Benefits” – is the first to actually quantify the health benefits and related economic benefits at a population level in the Netherlands. Currently, about 27% of all trips in the Netherlands are made by bicycle and the weekly time spent cycling is about 74 minutes per week for Dutch adults of 20 to 90 years of age. Even more noteworthy and remarkable, over half of the total life expectancy increase calculated in this study is being achieved by cycling among adults aged 65 and older.

The study clearly shows that Dutch investments in bicycle-promoting policies, such as improved bicycle infrastructure and facilities, are likely to yield a high cost-benefit ratio in the long term. Health benefits translate into economic benefits of over 5% of Dutch GDP. To calculate the economic health benefits of cycling, HEAT (Health Economic Assessment Tool) uses a standard value of a statistical life (VSL) to monetize the number of deaths per year prevented by cycling. With a Dutch VSL of € 2.8 million per prevented death, investment in cycling is an extremely wise economic investment. The €0.5 billion per year spent by the Dutch government on road and parking infrastructure for cycling is estimated to yield total economic health benefits of € 19 billion per year!

Investments in high quality cycling policies and infrastructure produce great benefit over the long term. Cycling for transport delivers wealth and health, quality of life, for people and for cities.

Be Active

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If you were told by a Dr – take this magic pill daily and you will reduce numerous health risks, be fit and healthy……would you take it? Unfortunately the wonder pill doesn’t exist, however in its place we are going to prescribe everyone regular physical activity/exercise and put you on the path to the same results. A little motivation can go a long way.

Walking: the most accessible and easiest way for most to incorporate exercise into our lifestyles. It’s free, gentle &low-impact that requires no special training or equipment. Almost everyone can do it, anywhere and at any time. You could join a health walk, become a rambler or just walk to the shops. Check out the Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service to find out about the rich natural heritage surrounding us.

If walking isn’t your thing, how about cycling? You could go for the standard cycle or try out an electric bike. Electric bikes (e-bikes) work much the same as ordinary bicycles except they have an electric motor which works when you pedal to give a bit of a boost, making going uphill a lot easier! You don’t need a special license to ride one (as long as you are over the age of 14) and the bikes can be used on cycle paths the same as ordinary bicycles.

Talking of cycle paths, Aberdeenshire Council transport strategy team have just finished new local ‘Walking & Cycling maps’ for several Aberdeenshire towns which are to be launched soon. We are also hearing whispers of ‘Treasure Trails’ which sounds interesting, and as far as we are concerned – anything that encourages us to get out and about is a winner in our eyes. Want to know more? Visit http://getabout.org.uk/ for more information.

Tell us what would make you more active in your community. Is there a path near you which could be a great walking route, perhaps you would like to be able to commute to work by bike? We’d love to hear from you at kandmcommunities@gmail.com

All Change!

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“A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens.”

In a change from our previous blogs K & M Communities is going to focus on the topics you have told us are you important to you, the priorities in our Local Community Plan. They are;

  • Strong Communities
  • Connecting People
  • Wellbeing

Over the next few weeks and months we will share with you some information and thoughts on these priorities, what’s happening in your local community and how you can have a voice in deciding what’s important in the future. We’re starting off with Connecting People. We hope you enjoy!