One year on from the start of the ‘Move More, Sit Less’ physical activity campaign and momentum is building behind a nationally concerted effort to tackle physical inactivity, the National Heart Foundation says.
Heart Foundation CEO Professor Garry Jennings says there is growing understanding among the major political parties of the need for measures to curb Australia’s physical inactivity epidemic.
“This reflects a growing realisation among policy-makers that physical inactivity is a major risk factor for chronic disease, Australia’s biggest health challenge,” Prof Jennings says.
“With an estimated 14,000 deaths attributable to physical inactivity every year and a total estimated cost to the health budget of $1.5 billion, the status quo is simply not an option.
“That’s why the Heart Foundation has undertaken the ‘Move More, Sit Less’ campaign and, along with partner organisations, has been advocating strongly for a nationally coordinated policy response.
“At its heart, this would include the development of a comprehensive, funded National Physical Activity Action Plan, to inform and shape policy-making into the future.”
He says examples of policies that would potentially underpin a National Physical Activity Action Plan include:
- Mandating the delivery of high-quality PE lessons in all Australian schools from first year of school to Year 12, totalling between 120 and180 minutes per week;
- Establishing referral pathways and subsidies for GPs and allied health professionals to educate and refer patients into evidence-based physical activity and lifestyle modification programs; and
- Developing and funding a national walking and cycling strategy that embraces walking, cycling and the use of public transport as congestion busters.
Prof Jennings thanked the Federal Government, including the Minister for Health, Sussan Ley and the Minister for Rural Health, Senator Fiona Nash, for their support of the ‘Move More, Sit Less’ campaign.
“Ministers Ley and Nash have been strong advocates in this policy space and the Heart Foundation values our working relationship with them,” he says.
“We take this opportunity to congratulate Minister Nash upon her recent elevation to the deputy leadership of the National Party and promotion to cabinet as Minister for Regional Development, in addition to rural health.
“The Heart Foundation looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Federal Government as we aim to achieve a healthier and more active Australia.”