I am
Preventing chronic diseases through physical activity
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Preventing chronic diseases through physical activity

Media Release - 4 June 2019

Chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, is the leading cause of ill health and death in Australia.

In 2014-15, more than 11 million Australians had at least one chronic disease and one-quarter of the population had two or more.

Conservative estimates say that one third of the $25 billion spent on health care in Australia each year goes towards preventable conditions.

Yet we know that 31 per cent of the burden of chronic disease could have been prevented . At the launch of the report Prevention better than cure: Spending to save Australian lives, the Heart Foundation reinforced the message that a comprehensive national preventive health program is crucial for Australians living well and staying healthy for as long as possible.

Encouraging more Australians to be physically active is at the heart of any preventive strategy. Data from the UK’s Public Health England suggests that if people were sufficiently active, it could cut the rate of many chronic diseases by as much as 40 per cent.

If more people met the recommended guidelines for physical activity they could reduce their risk of:

  • Dementia by up to 30 per cent
  • Cardiovascular disease by up to 35 per cent
  • Type 2 Diabetes by up to 40 per cent
  • Colon cancer by 30 per cent
  • Breast cancer by 20 per cent

Public Health England’s Everybody Active Every Day national physical activity framework was born out of the realisation that, without prevention, the health costs from inactive 40-60-year-olds would send the UK Government broke.

Through a series of concerted campaigns, the UK has doubled its rates of people meeting the recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week – from about 35 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women to about 75 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.

Increasing physical activity rates is a great public health investment– and none more so than encouraging walking.

Most people can walk, it does not cost any money to do, it is accessible, is a great way to spend time with friends (new and old) and is a wonderful tonic for one’s mental health.

The winner of the Heart Foundation Walking program’s Golden Shoe Award, Anne Whalan, joined a Heart Foundation Walking group 20 years ago after her husband suffered heart disease. But it also helped her deal with difficult emotions following his death – Anne says the walking group helped keep her from becoming depressed and has kept her well enough to still be living independently at 90.

Heart Foundation Walking is Australia’s only network of free, community-based walking groups catering for different age groups. The Heart Foundation is delighted that we’re going to partner with the Federal Government to boost these programs further over the next two to four years to reach even more participants.

In May, the Government announced that it would allocate $10 million over two years to the Heart Foundation to lead the Prime Minister’s Walk for Life Challenge, which will support more Australians to become regular walkers and encourage people to be more active.

The Federal Government is also on the right track in having ‘preventive health through physical activity’ as one of the four key pillars of its National Sports Plan.

With the growing focus on prevention and physical activity, I feel that we are on the cusp of significant change.

This is great news for the Heart Foundation, which has worked for the past 60 years to encourage all Australians to lead healthier and more active lifestyles for better heart health.

Australia’s Health 2016 shows that chronic disease is our greatest health challenge, and we – as advocates, as governments, as decision-makers – must roll up our sleeves and enhance preventive measures if we are to help more Australians to live longer, happier, healthier and more productive lives.

Research Directory

Research Directory

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Many different thoughts may go through your head after a heart attack and you may be presented with complicated medical info. Know where to get support. ...

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Got a question about your heart?...

How we work

How we work

How we work

One Heart, One Team...

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

Atrial fibrillation resources for patients

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

Green power smoothie

2021 NSW CVRN Ministerial Awards for Cardiovascular Research

2021 NSW CVRN Ministerial Awards for Cardiovascular Research

Nominations are now open for the 2021 NSW Cardiovascular Research Network’s (CVRN) Ministerial Awards for Cardiovascular Research....

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

This is a common test done to find out angina symptoms, or during or after a heart attack. ...

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Dessert recipes

Find heart healthy dessert recipes....

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition ...

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Cardiac rehabilitation resources for healthcare providers

Cardiac rehabilitation resources for healthcare providers

Useful cardiac rehabilitation resources for health professionals....

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Search through our tasty salad recipes...

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

24-hour Blood Pressure Monitoring

Blood pressure monitoring at home using a 24-hour blood pressure monitor test....

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

If you have a heart condition, your doctor may recommend treatment or procedures...

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Heart Health Check Toolkit – Post-use evaluation survey

Heart Health Check Toolkit – Post-use evaluation survey

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Find heart healthy kids recipes...

Hot oats – (base recipe)

Hot oats – (base recipe)

Hot oats – (base recipe)

10 minutes
Serves 2 (Makes 2 cups)

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Resources available for built environment professionals to help guide in the development of active outdoor and indoor spaces....

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Like men, women can be diagnosed with a range of heart conditions....

Sodium and salt converter

Sodium and salt converter

Convert the sodium listed on food products into grams of salt or vice versa. ...

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

The Heart Foundation Community

We need your opinion, experience and skills to help us improve the heart health of all Australians. ...

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

Leaving a gift in your Will: A lasting legacy

One of the most powerful ways to help support a future without heart disease is to include a gift to the Heart Foundation in your Will...

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Pregnancy is often referred to as the “ultimate stress test” for the body....

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

GLOBAL CARDIOVASCULAR RESEARCH FUNDERS FORUM

FACILITATING INTERNATIONAL CLINICAL TRIALS ...

Strategic Grants

Strategic Grants

Strategic Grants aim to generate innovative and collaborative research in the areas of identified knowledge gaps or those deemed to be priorities of the Heart Foundation. ...