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Post COVID-19: Active communities vital for healthy tickers
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Post COVID-19: Active communities vital for healthy tickers

Media Release - 22 June 2020

Active communities are vital for healthy tickers, the Heart Foundation says as it calls on the Victorian State Government to support local councils to implement recommendations in its 20-Minute Neighbourhood pilot report, released in August 2019.
A recent Heart Foundation survey of 300 people found during lockdown a third of people walked more than usual. Of people who walked more, and alone since COVID-19, just over half said they walked more than an hour for exercise.

While heart disease remains Australia’s single biggest killer, walking for an average of 30 minutes a day can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes by 30% to 40%.

Heart Foundation CEO Victoria, Kellie-Ann Jolly said, COVID-19 restrictions had built an appetite to act, as people forced to exercise close to home became more aware of their local amenities, or the lack of them.

“Now is the time to enhance liveability across local neighbourhoods that supports and promotes walking and active living. Safe, accessible and wide footpaths, dedicated bike paths, better access to public transport hubs and improved streetscapes are measures that encourage people to get active,” Ms Jolly said.

“As a first step, we urge the Victorian State Government to support local councils to implement key recommendations for the pilot sites – Croydon South, Strathmore and Sunshine West. These local shovel-ready projects can support local economies and businesses to help drive recovery as restrictions ease.

“Social distancing is our ‘new normal’ so even putting in place temporary measures like bike lanes can provide health benefits.

“Where we live plays a vital role in our physical and mental wellbeing. Healthy street design with access to public green spaces builds a sense of community that makes it easier for people to lead active, heart-healthy lives.
“Yet to deliver these healthy ‘live local’ outcomes, a whole-of government approach is needed.”

Ms Jolly said next steps may include evaluating implemented measures before expanding the rollout of 20-Minute Neighbourhoods in targeted areas across metropolitan Melbourne.

Through its Healthy Active by Design website, the Heart Foundation provides tools and case studies to support planners, developers and designers to integrate walking, cycling and active living opportunities in their urban design for better health outcomes
As part of this pilot project, the Foundation worked with the Victorian State Government to identify the hallmark features of a 20-Minute Neighbourhood and ran workshops with the three councils to guide thinking about what was needed locally.

Ms Jolly welcomed the opportunity to continue to work with local and state governments to support heart-healthy, people-friendly urban design.

Media enquiries

Debora McInnes, Senior Media Advisor
M: 0423 827 697 E: debora.mcinnes@heartfoundation.org.au

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