Physical Activity in Australia: A Snapshot, 2007-08

The latest in the Australian Bureau of Statistics' popular snapshot series provides an overview of the physical activity levels of adults in Australia, including information on a range of factors which may influence these levels and the long-term health risks associated with physical inactivity.

It is not a pretty picture ! In recent decades, there has been a decline in physical activity due to the increasing sedentary nature of many forms of work and activities such as watching television or using a computer, as well as changes in transportation. Sedentary behaviour is believed to be associated with the rise in overweight and obesity, and has been shown to increase an individual's risk of cardiovascular disease, colon and breast cancers, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. It has been estimated that the direct health care costs due to physical inactivity in Australia were almost $1.5 billion in 2006-07, the largest of which were attributable to falls ($469 million) and coronary heart disease ($372 million).

Worldwide, physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, contributing to 6% of deaths, and is second only to tobacco smoking as a leading modifiable health risk factor contributing to the burden of disease and injury in Australia. It is the fifth leading risk factor for men and the third leading risk factor for women.

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