Sitting causing significant burden: new data

Latest Heart Foundation data provides further evidence that the prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors is lower among Australian who meet physical activity recommendations.

The latest Heart Foundation report, Physical activity and cardiovascular disease, highlights the importance of physical activity as a risk factor in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease.

Former Chair of the Heart Foundation Physical Activity Advisory Committee and co-director of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Deakin University, Professor Jo Salmon says technological and transport advances are resulting in unprecedented levels of sedentary behaviour.

“In Australia, the likelihood of being highly active decreases as adults get older, while sedentary behaviour levels increase with age from 18 years,” Prof Salmon says.

“Importantly, physical activity levels are influenced by a range of socioeconomic and cultural factors,” he points out.

People living in areas with lower disadvantage were more likely to meet physical activity recommendations than people in areas with higher disadvantage (52.3% and 35.5% respectively).

Similarly, the proportion of children meeting both physical activity and screen-based activity recommendations was lowest amongst those living in highly disadvantaged areas (29.4%), the report found.

Heart Foundation Chief Medical Advisor Professor Garry Jennings says physical inactivity contributes to an estimated 14,000 deaths annually, which means it is surprising that successive Australian governments have not adopted cost-effective preventative measures promoting active lives.

“To help guide the way, the Heart Foundation released the Blueprint for an An Active Australia, which was a comprehensive compendium of 13 action areas that will boost our low rates of physical activity,” Prof Jennings says.

“We also convened a national physical activity consensus forum at Parliament House last year to highlight the key elements that should underpin a national action plan.

“We now have a clear way forward and urge all governments to play their part in getting the nation to move more, sit less. We hope that in years to come we will be able to release statistics that demonstrate we have turned the corner on physical inactivity.”

The Heart Foundation has been encouraged by commitments from all major political parties that will get Australians to move more and sit less including:

  • an ALP commitment to a national physical activity strategy;
  • a Coalition pledge to fund a significant number of local physical activity infrastructure projects; and
  • a Greens plan for a major walking and cycling initiative.

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