Promoting physical activity and active communities

Physical activity is any activity that gets your body moving, makes you breathe quicker and your heart beat faster. Inactivity is a significant cause of ill-health for Australians and a major contributor to high blood pressure, high blood glucose, overweight and obesity.

In recent times sedentary behaviour has also evolved as a separate health issue; this refers to prolonged sitting or lying down.

Regular physical activity can promote healthy growth and development and benefit the whole community, by encouraging greater family and social connectedness. It can also reduce the risk of getting a range of chronic illnesses or help with their management. Even just a little physical activity can provide protection against long-term chronic illness.

Impact and scale

Physical inactivity is a problem across all age groups: around 40 per cent of Tasmanian children do not get the physical activity level recommended by the Australian Physical Activity guidelines. This rises to 80 per cent of adolescents. Around 70 per cent of adults don't get enough physical activity.

Tasmanian adults spend an average of 37 hours a week in sedentary time, and 65 per cent of Tasmanian children are exceeding the recommendations for screen time.

Inequities

There are many reasons for physical inactivity. In some communities poor physical infrastructure or inadequate public space discourages people from being active. Adults living in the most advantaged areas are more likely to meet activity guidelines than those living in disadvantaged areas.

Tasmania also has an older population, who are more likely to experience chronic conditions which can reduce their ability to be active.

Evidence for health promotion

The most effective interventions are those that target certain groups and use multiple strategies such as involving community stakeholders, capacity building, partnerships and cooperation. Creating built environments that help active living is also important.

Visit the evidence library to find more information about this principle.