Our Inactivity Epidemic

By Danielle Pope

Getting out for a jog can dramatically reduce the risk of obesity.
Almost 60 per cent of Australian adults are not doing enough physical activity

In a world where we seem to constantly be talking about health, 10,000 steps, heart rates and exercise, you think we would be fitter than ever. However, a new study has found that almost 60 per cent of Australian adults are still not doing enough physical activity.

Published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, the study compared National Health Survey data over 20 years, and found that we have not improved our activity levels since 1989.

This trend was greatest among women, who are increasingly are not meeting the guidelines of 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day.

Lead researcher, Dr Josephine Chau of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, said the findings could be interpreted in two ways.

“When I first saw the data I thought it was a bit disappointing,” Chau admitted. “I was hoping it would show more of an upward trend of people being physically active. But maybe this is good because we’re working against the current of an obesegenic environment. We’re achieving something but the power of the things that are driving us to be inactive is stronger.”

In 2011, physical inactivity was the fourth highest contributor (5.0%) to total burden of disease and injury in Australia; 2 6.4 % of cancers, 21.2 % of cardiovascular diseases and 29.7% of endocrine diseases were attributable to physical inactivity. Globally, it is estimated that physical inactivity causes 9% of premature mortality and cost healthcare systems Int’l $53·8 billion in 2013.

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