Australians are well aware that heart disease is Australia’s biggest killer and they also seem to know that they can reduce their risk through doing more physical exercise, but despite knowing that information, few seem to be changing their habits.
A Heart Foundation survey of more than 7000 Australian adults found that 65 per cent said that they knew exercise could lower their risk of heart disease, but two-thirds of that group did not meet the recommended physical activity guidelines.
The Heart Foundation guidelines require 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days per week.
Read more: Dining out associated with early death
Some of the survey respondents (44 per cent) said they had also been told by their doctor that they needed to be more active, explained Heart Foundation chief executive Professor John Kelly.
“Our research suggests that while many Australians know that movement is good for their hearts, and they have been advised by their doctor to be more active, they are not acting on this,” Prof. Kelly said.
“Overall, around one in two Australians aged 18 to 64 – that’s almost eight million people – are not active enough for good heart health.
“This is extremely concerning given physical inactivity is a key risk factor for heart disease, which takes 50 Australian lives each day, or one every 29 minutes.”
Read more: The ‘officials’ letting down the vulnerable
To encourage more Australians to get moving, the Heart Foundation has launched a free, six-week personal walking plan program.
The program provides participants with a walking plan tailored to their current activity levels, as identified during an easy, two-minute sign-up process.
Plans are delivered via weekly emails and texts, which are designed not only to support and motivate participants, but also to deliver information about the many benefits of walking beyond fitness and heart health.
Read more: What you should drink before exercising
“This is a vital component of the personal walking plans, because, as our survey shows, simply understanding that physical activity is good for the heart does not equate to getting off the couch,” Prof. Kelly said.
“Over this six-week journey with us, participants will learn about some of the lesser-known benefits of regular walking, like unwinding at the end of a stressful day; exploring their neighbourhood; becoming stronger and more flexible; and improving their mood.”
This is in addition to walking’s other incredible health benefits, Prof. Kelly said.
“Walking for an average of 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of not only heart disease, but also stroke, diabetes, dementia and some cancers. It can also help maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.
“That’s why we often call walking a ‘wonder drug’.
“If it were a medicine, we would all be taking it daily for longer, healthier, happier lives.
“By highlighting the unique and holistic benefits of walking, we are confident of recruiting an enthusiastic new generation to our Heart Foundation walking family, while also continuing our mission to save Australian lives from heart disease.”
Last week, YourLifeChoices reported on new research that confirmed exercise could stimulate bone growth and boost immunity.
What’s your preferred form of exercise? Do you walk every day?
If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.