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Physical Inactivity

Survey data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that approximately 65% of Australians over the age of 15 years of age had low, or sedentary (practically ‘zero’) levels of physical activity (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013). More than HALF of Australian adults perform NO exercise on a regular basis. I found this staggering! So I did some more research, and thought I would share some of the information with you.

In 2010, Cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease accounted for ¼ (25%) of the burden of disease in Australia (contributing to years of life lost, or premature death).

Physical activity accounted for approximately 20% of the overall risk factors contributing to years of life lost due to cardiovascular disease, with high blood pressure, high Body Mass Index (BMI), smoking, and high cholesterol being other major risk factors (Heart Foundation, 2013)

According to World Health Organisation (2009), of the 19 leading risk factors attributed to early death (across the world), physical inactivity was 8th in low income countries, 4th in middle income countries, and 4th in high income countries. Other risk factors included high blood pressure, smoking, high blood glucose, overweight and obesity, and high cholesterol.

Immediately my mind thinks…”How many of these other risk factors would be reduced or eliminated by increasing physical activity?”.

Australian health guidelines for physical activity and sedentary behaviour are:

  • Any exercise or physical activity is better than no activity. Aim to do something, building to regular and more intense exercise as you increase tolerance

  • Be active on most, or all days of the week

  • Aim to accumulate 2.5-5 hours of moderate intensity exercise, or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous (high) intensity exercise, or a combination of both, each week.

  • Do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 times each week.

  • Minimise prolonged sitting and periods of rest

(Australian Government, 2017) Physical activity can improve many of the risk factors listed above, and has also been shown to help reduce severity of pain, improve physical function, and affect psychological function (Geneen et al., 2017), as well as sleep (Kredlow et al., 2015) You don’t need to be a member of a gym or sports team, or have a heap of exercise equipment at home. Below are some examples of ways to achieve exercise, as well as ideas of activities of different intensities: Low intensity

  • Walking

  • Yoga

  • Pilates

  • Tai chi

  • Aqua aerobics

Moderate - vigorous intensity

  • Jogging

  • Running

  • Pilates

  • Weight training

  • Swimming

  • Tennis

  • Team sports

  • Gymnastics

  • Dance

  • Mixed martial arts

Even if your work requires you to walk between offices, desks, buildings throughout the day, or if you are at a standing desk all day, this is not classed as being active. Find something you enjoy doing, and do it regularly.

Some more information for you:

References: Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013, July 19). 4364.0.55.004 - Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity, 2011-12. Retrieved from Australian Government. (2017). Department of Health | Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. Retrieved from Geneen LJ, Moore R, Clarke C, Martin D, Colvin LA, Smith BH. Physical activity and exercise for chronic pain in adults: an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD011279. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011279.pub3 Heart Foundation. (2013). Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Retrieved from Kredlow. A.,Capozzoli. M.,Hearon. B. A.,Calkins. A. W., Otto. M. (2015). The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. Journal of behavioral medicine. 38. 10.1007/s10865-015-9617-6. World Health Organisation. (2009). Global Health Risks. Mortality and Burden of Disease Attributable to Selected Major Risks. Retrieved from

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