Doctor sets right pace - Too few walking-class heroes

Parramatta Advertiser

Wednesday 2 October 2002

REGULAR exercise will do you a world of good, says Parramatta GP Graham Malouf the hard part is getting started.

This Friday is Walk to Work Day, a perfect opportunity for Australians to start working some exercise into their daily routines.

“Why wouldn't you do it?” said Dr Malouf, an enthusiastic supporter of Walk to Work Day.

“Exercise decreases the incidence of bowel cancer by 50 per cent (and) breast cancer by 30 per cent, and improves the symptoms of depression quicker than any anti-depressants.”

And if that doesn't get you interested “It's also some safeguard against impotence in middle age.”

This is the Pedestrian Council of Australia's fifth annual Walk to Work Day, designed to promote a combination of walking and public transport as a healthier and more efficient way to get to work.

“The hardest thing about exercise is making up your mind to do it,” Dr Malouf said.

“The best way is just to start . . . Walk to Work Day is something that will actually get you started.”

Dr Malouf said an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and competition in the workplace made it difficult for many to find time to exercise.

“We should make an effort to (exercise) about an hour a week. That doesn't mean playing squash, walking is a fabulous way. It mobilises your joints . . . and helps reduce your cholesterol,” he said.

“The marketplace is very competitive in terms of labour . . . but to function at your best you need to be physically fit and mentally fit.”

DESPITE a love of sport, Australia leads the world in couch Olympics, NSW Premier's Taskforce on physical activity chairman Adrian Bauman said this week.

He is professor of public health and epidemiology at the University of NSW and director of the NSW Centre For Physical Activity and Health.

In a letter to Pedestrian Council of Australia president Harold Scruby in March, Dr Bauman said a decline in physical activity was Australia's “greatest current public health threat”.

He said inactivity cost the health sector about $400 million a year and had “untold indirect costs, including adverse effects on quality of life.”