Physical Inactivity


·         Physical inactivity ranks second (to tobacco control) as the most important contributor to population ill-health. (National Public Health Partnership 2002);

·         Physical inactivity ranks first as the leading contributor to preventable illness and morbidity amongst women and second for males. (Nation Public Health Partnership 2002);

·         There is evidence that rates of participation in physical activity in Australia are declining. Between 1997 and 1999 there was a significant decline in the proportion of people doing recommended levels of physical activity (from 62% to 57%). The fall was greatest for people aged 30 to 44 years (from 64% to 54%);


·         The annual direct health care cost attributable to physical inactivity is estimated to be around $377m and is associated with about 8,000 preventable deaths each year in Australia;


·         About 5.8 million Australians (44% of that population) do not undertake physical activity at the levels recommended to achieve health benefits. Groups at higher risk of physical inactivity include women with children, people in middle age, people who are socially disadvantaged, people from a non-English speaking background and Indigenous adults;


·         The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians recommends that at least 30 minutes of physical activity of at least moderate intensity be accumulated on most days of the week to obtain a health benefit. These 30 minutes need not be continuous and benefits can be achieved through one, or a combination of activities throughout the day.  For example, a walk to the bus stop in the morning for 10 minutes, followed by a 10 minute walk around the block at lunchtime and then another 10 minute walk in the afternoon, easily makes up the 30 minutes without disrupting regular daily activities.


Health benefits of physical activity


·         Regular physical activity reduces the risk of:

·         Diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, osteoporosis and colon cancer

·         Obesity

·         Injury


Physical activity has also been shown to:

·         Facilitate better stress management

·         Alleviate depression and anxiety

·         Strengthen self-esteem

·         Enhance mood

·         Boost mental alertness