Heart Foundation applauds Budget funding for Healthy Heart package

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Low wide shot of person walking along the street.
The Heart Foundation welcomes a commitment in the Federal Budget to get more Australians walking.

The Heart Foundation welcomes a $10 million commitment in the Federal Budget to get more Australians active by investing in a walking revolution, and $5 million dedicated to helping GPs to encourage patients to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced that $10 million over two years will be allocated to the Heart Foundation to lead the Prime Minister’s Walk for Life Challenge, which will support up to 300,000 Australians to adopt the easy way to better health – regular walking – by 2019.

“Physical inactivity takes an immense toll on the Australian community, causing an estimated 14,000 premature deaths a year - similar to that caused by smoking,” said Heart Foundation National CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly.

“Disturbingly, about half of Australian adults are not physically active enough to gain the health benefits of exercise. This includes just under half of young people aged 25 to 34 years old. This puts them at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers and dementia in later life.

“But even moderate exercise is like a wonder drug. Being active for as little as 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can reduce risk of death from heart attack by a third, as well as help you sleep better, feel better, improve your strength and balance, and maintain your bone density. It also manages your weight, blood pressure and blood cholesterol. So we are delighted by the news of the Prime Minister’s $10 million walking challenge.”

Heart Foundation Walking is Australia’s only national network of free walking groups. It has helped more than 80,000 Australians walk their way to better health since the program began in 1995, and currently has nearly 30,000 active participants. “We need to inspire Australians to be more active, and walking groups are a cheap, fun and easy way for them to get moving,” Professor Kelly said.

The Heart Foundation wants to see everyone 'Move More and Sit Less', including school students, sedentary workers and older Australians. “So we welcome the Government’s National Sports Plan, also announced in the Budget, to encourage physical activity at all levels, from community participation to elite sports.

“The Heart Foundation is also pleased to see a renewed commitment of more than $18 million to the National Rheumatic Fever Strategy, a critical program if we are to Close the Gap in health for Indigenous communities,” said Professor Kelly. “And we welcome the listing of the new heart failure medication Entresto on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, making it affordable for many more Australians, as well as funding for research into preventative care, and the development of a National Sport Plan, with its emphasis on participation.”

At a glance

Regular walking or other physical activity reduces:

  • All-cause mortality by 30%
  • Heart disease and stroke by 35%
  • Type 2 diabetes by 42%
  • Colon cancer by 30%
  • Breast cancer by 20%
  • Weight, blood pressure and blood cholesterol

For further information or to interview Professor Kelly, please contact Karen Kissane, national media and communications manager, 0478 483 777, karen.kissane@heartfoundation.org.au

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