Inactivity Epidemic

Inactivity Epidemic

We need to think outside the box to address inactivity epidemic, researchers say

Posted on 03.08.2017

Despite growing awareness about the importance of exercise and a nationwide campaign to ‘move more and sit less‘, almost 60 per cent of Australian adults are still not doing enough physical activity.

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

The trend of inactivity was greatest among women, who 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.”

The epidemic of physical inactivity (different to sedentary behaviour, which is specifically too much sitting), is the fourth highest contributor to the total burden of disease and injury in Australia and costs us in excess of $53 billion a year.

A solution to the problem lies in a nationally coordinated action plan for physical activity, say Chau and her co-authors.

While individual responsibility “is important”, Chau says we need to make activity easier for people on a daily basis.

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