Physical Inactivity

·         Over the past two years, the number of people with diabetes has risen, as have levels of obesity while at the same time, the levels of people conducting sufficient physical activity has declined (Australia’s Health, 2004);

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

·         The major burden of disease in Australia arises from long-term conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental illnesses and nervous system disorders (Australia’s Health, 2004);

·         Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions are estimated to affect more than 6 million Australians – that’s 3 in every 10 (Australia’s Health, 2004);

·         Obesity amoungst adults aged 25-64 has doubled over the last two decades, with about one in five now classified as obese (Australia’s Health, 2004);

·         More than half of all Australian adults do not undertake leisure-time physical activity at levels recommended for health benefits, including almost one in six who report no leisure time physical activity at all (Australia’s Health, 2004).

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

·         The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity at moderate intensity level, on most, preferably all, days of the week, to obtain a health benefit. These 30 minutes need not be continuous as health benefits can be achieved by accumulating activity 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 make up the 30 minutes without disrupting regular daily activities.

Health benefits of physical activity

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of:

o        Cardiovascular disease

o        Type II diabetes

o        Musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoporosis

o        Colon cancer

o        Obesity

Physical activity has also been shown to:

o        Help stress management

o        Alleviate mental heath conditions such as depression and anxiety

o        Increase self-esteem

o        Enhance mood

o        Boost mental alertness