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Exercise & Sports Science Australia calls for Governments to recognise exercise physiology in health

Exercise & Sports Science Australia calls for Governments to recognise exercise physiology in health
March 24, 2014

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is calling for Governments to introduce effective frameworks for lifestyle modification and collaborative care in primary health to tackle Australia's obesity crisis.

With approximately 60% of adult Australians either overweight or obese, ESSA cites new evidence that shows the potential for exercise physiology to add measurable value in the battle with heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

ESSA Executive Officer Anita Hobson-Powell explains "Australians are faced with a number of health issues that exercise could play a key role in improving (and) exercise physiology is an essential and under-utilised player." 

Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) specialise in the planning and delivery of clinical exercise prescriptions for the prevention or management of chronic and complex conditions.

Hobson-Powell states "AEPs are often overlooked by the medical profession who do not understand the effects physical activity can have on a range of conditions. There are thousands of research papers that show moving can help everything from cancer recovery to mental health illnesses."

Recent research undertaken by Queensland and Oxford academics has indicated that there is a significant practice gap in the delivery, maintenance and follow-up of patients whom lifestyle modification has been prescribed.

Hobson-Powell adds "general practitioners may provide excellent advice on physical activity and dietary changes, but are less likely to prescribe tailored exercise either due to a lack of time, understanding or failure to realise the patient's readiness to change behaviour.

"Australia is constantly battling these ever growing number of health issues, yet we are not working together to solve the crux of the matter."

ESSA is calling on Federal and State Governments to:

• Increase investment in primary health care and prevention is critical in order to reduce hospital admissions, long term healthcare spending and negative financial implications to the government. 
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, approximately 32% of Australia's total burden of disease can be attributed to modifiable risk factors. Furthermore, the overall cost of chronic disease to the healthcare system is upwards of $6 billion per year, while lost productivity is estimated at $13 billion.Evidence clearly demonstrates that well-planned health prevention and promotion programs significantly enhance the quality and duration of our lives. Focussing on maintaining wellness and addressing lifestyle risk factors for chronic disease, such as physical inactivity and overweight/obesity, will reduce the need for hospitalisations and the inevitable increase in healthcare spending.

• To expand its allied health workforce and improve access to services that provide physical activity, weight loss and healthy nutritional advice and support – as advocated by the National Preventative Health Task Force.

• Expand current provisions under Telehealth to include Allied Health Professionals, including Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs). 
One third of Australia's population live outside major cities, with many residents in rural and remote communities facing a significant health disadvantage, poorer health outcomes and reduced access to health services than their metropolitan counterparts (AIHW 2012). Expanding current Telehealth services will help address the increasing burden of chronic disease associated with obesity and lifestyle factors in remote/regional populations through the provision of appropriately tailored physical activity interventions by an AEP.

ESSA is the peak professional body for exercise and sports science in Australia, ESSA provides national leadership and advocacy on key issues and supports its members and the community through fostering excellence in professional practice, education and training, and research. 

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