Physical activity: unsung wonder drug

The majority of Australians are aware they need to be more active, but most don’t realise physical activity is a wonder drug for preventing illness and chronic diseases.

File image.

File image.

The research released for Heart Week shows that only seven per cent of adults readily identify the reduction of diseases and illness as a benefit of regular physical activity.

“Our research shows that most Aussies are aware they should be more active, and that physical activity is generally good for their health and wellbeing,” said Heart Foundation National Spokesperson on Physical Activity, Adjunct Professor Trevor Shilton. 

“However, the majority don’t recognise the relationship between regular physical activity and reducing their risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease,” said 

At least 30 minutes of physical activity a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 35 per cent, help manage depression and anxiety, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers and lower the risk of dementia.

“Despite many Australians being reluctant to start getting active, our research shows that more than 80 per cent of people feel that physical activity has a positive impact on their mood,” said A/Prof. Shilton.

The Heart Week results also found that those who struggle to meet their physical activity goals feel there are a number of barriers to being physically active. The top being lack of time, ill health, poor weather, high costs and feeling ‘too fat or overweight’ to take part.

“People think there are roadblocks, but it’s far easier than you might think,” said A/Prof. Shilton. 

“People who are getting moving are walking for exercise or transport, running, jogging or swimming. Physical activity doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. You are never too young or old to benefit from being active. Almost all of us can incorporate three 10-minute blocks of activity a day.”

Australians are more likely to be excited about getting active if they have someone to be active with – and are more likely to feel good afterwards.

“You are more likely to feel motivated to be physically active and keep up the routine if you are active with a buddy – whether that be a friend, pet, family member or colleague. This Heart Week I would encourage you to find a physical activity buddy to keep you motivated.” 

- Heart Foundation