Heart Week 2015 will take place from Sunday 3 May - Saturday 9 May.
The week provides a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on heart health issues in Australia and raise awareness of the work the Heart Foundation is doing to lead the fight against heart disease.
Traditionally during Heart Week, we have focused on talking to the community about the warning signs of a heart attack using a both media and marketing channels. However this year we are focussing on physical inactivity and the importance of active travel.
Under the banner of ‘Move More, Sit Less!’ the Heart Foundation aims to raise public, media and government awareness of the risks involved with sustained physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour, and how a nationally coordinated physical activity strategy will be central to tackling this major public health issue.
The trend towards increasing inactivity among Australians was highlighted by the recent release of data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which showed that 60 per cent of Australians aged 15 years and over participated in physical sport and recreation in 2013-14, down from 65 per cent in 2011-12.
Physical inactivity is a major killer and a significant contributor to the burden of chronic disease in Australia. Disturbingly, just two in three (66.9%) Australians aged 15 and over are sedentary or engage in low levels of exercise. If we are serious about tackling chronic disease, we must be serious about getting Australians to move more and sit less.
Despite seeing ourselves as a nation of rugged outdoors or beach-loving people, we have increasingly become a nation that sits anchored behind computer screens or lazing on the couch, oblivious to the very real harm we are doing to our health.
When this is combined with the inordinate amount of time we spend sitting down at work, then the sheer scale of our inactivity, and therefore the challenge to policy makers, becomes all too clear.
Worryingly for the future, that inactivity causes major economic, social and health impacts including:
- Costing the health budget an estimated $1.5 billion each year;
- Causing an estimated 16,000 premature deaths each year;
- Contributing to almost one-quarter (24%) of the cardiovascular burden of disease in Australia;
- Increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers; and
- Being a critical factor in Australia’s obesity epidemic, with more than half of all Australian adults overweight or obese.
Such are the long-term social, health and economic risks posed by Australians increasingly inactivity, the need for urgent, coordinated action at a national level has become a key focus for the Heart Foundation. We want:
- the Federal Government to establish a national physical activity strategy and to provide a built environment that supports active living;
- more people to be supported to walk, cycle and use public transport;
- to activate a healthcare funding system that supports general practitioners (GPs) and other health professionals to prescribe and provide advice about physical activity;
- to implement a life-stage approach that focusses specifically on children, youth and families as well as older adults for physical activity programs;
- physical activity programs provided in key settings - where people live, work and are educated, including workplaces and local government-schools and childcare facilities.
We are proud to have Dr Andrew Rochford on board as our Heart Week Ambassador in 2015. Dr Rochford is one of Australia’s most popular media personalities and medical health experts. He is a husband and father of three young children who is passionate about family, fitness and health. Dr Rochford is committed to promoting an active lifestyle for all Australians.
Our kick off event will be on 25 March in Canberra with a Parliamentary breakfast. Professor Jo Salmon, Chair of NAPC and Deputy Director, Centre for Physical Activity & Nutrition Research, Deakin University, will make the case to our nation’s leaders as to why Australia needs a national physical activity strategy.
Key to achieving our goals will be the involvement and support of medical professionals from around the country, to help send the strongest possible message to politicians that we need to start getting Australians to ‘Move More, Sit Less!’ sooner rather than later.
In the lead up to Heart Week, we will make limited resources and information available on our Extra Resources page to support the Physical Activity theme.
Unfortunately, the Heart Foundation is unable to print or dispatch any promotional material for Heart Week this year.