More funding needed to improve Australia’s physical inactivity crisis

Yesterday, 31st October 2019, Sport Australia released the latest AusPlay results covering data collected in the 2018/19 financial year. AusPlay provides national data on the number of people participating in sport and physical activity and how they participate.

With only 34.1% of Australians meeting the physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is urgently calling for the government to implement a firmer strategy to increase these low statistics and keep Australians living longer and healthier.

“Despite all the funding and strategies over the years at a state and federal level, nothing is working to improve these levels of physical activity and it is time to rethink how strategies are implemented. For example, currently, little to no funding has been made available to assist those who have not even contemplated exercise or physical activity to benefit their health,” says ESSA Chief Executive Officer, Anita Hobson-Powell.

“Minister of Health, Hon. Greg Hunt MP has commissioned the development of a national preventive health strategy, due out mid to late next year, as an outcome of the Australian Government’s Long Term National Health Plan. It is therefore imperative that exercise and physical activity becomes a key focus for this preventative health strategy.”

For this strategy to be successful in helping Australians live well longer, we need to see the strategy:
  • require the development of a national physical activity plan;
  • have bipartisan support;
  • be cross-sectional between government and industry. Preventive health is just not a health issue, it also requires buy-in from education, transport, social services and infrastructure; and
  • support a cultural change to encourage people to participate in physical activity – this includes exercise being seen as medical and preventative treatment, corporate health incentives, tax incentives and priority within education.

With this latest report highlighting that only 25.1% of over 65s meet the physical activity guidelines, ESSA’s current Exercise Right for Active Ageing (ERAA) project continues to be a significant investment in the health of our older Australians by helping to support behaviour change and participation rates.

The ERAA project is delivering evidence-based, affordable and subsidised exercise classes to older Australians over the age of 65 led by university-qualified professionals: Accredited Exercise Physiologists and Accredited Exercise Scientists.

“This project is a game changer in accelerating older Australians’ understanding of the benefits of active ageing, and the role exercise plays in maintaining and improving their health and independence. It’s more programs like these that require funding in order to see Australia’s physical activity improve.”

ESSA accredited professionals, Accredited Exercise Scientists and Accredited Exercise Physiologists, play an important role in promoting the health and well-being of all Australians through the science of exercise and sport.

“These exercise professionals will prescribe exercise that is evidence-based and personalised for you and your health. Accredited Exercise Scientists will work with you to maintain good health and fitness to prevent chronic conditions, whilst an Accredited Exercise Physiologist will use exercise as medicine for those living with a chronic condition or illness such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, musculoskeletal injuries and more.”

“We strongly recommend that the government invests further funding to access these professionals so that all Australians can benefit from evidence-based exercise interventions to improve their health now and in to the future.”

To contact an accredited exercise professional in your area, please visit the ESSA Search Function.