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ISEAL research to focus on effectiveness of fitness services

ISEAL research to focus on effectiveness of fitness services
June 20, 2014

Fitness Australia, in collaboration with the Victoria University Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL), has launched Australia’s first national Fitness Industry Research Program.

The ISEAL Fitness Industry Research Program will focus on research into the effectiveness of structured exercise programs delivered through fitness services. The Program’s objective is to help inform the fitness industry to adopt strategies that will increase the population’s participation in structured exercise.

Commenting on the initiative, Fitness Australia Chief Executive Lauretta Stace stated “with almost 60% of adult Australians not undertaking sufficient physical activity for health benefits and more than 60% of adults at an unhealthy weight, Fitness Australia is committed to ensuring that the industry can deliver safe and effective structured exercise programs to all Australians, regardless of their fitness level.

“We’ve partnered with Victoria University’s ISEAL to establish a dedicated research unit that will build evidence and best practices around exercise programs. The evidence and best practices will assist industry to implement the changes necessary to deliver positive population health outcomes.”

The ISEAL Fitness Industry Research Program’s first planned research activity includes the ‘Fit and Well’ study which will be led by Dr Jason Bennie, a PhD in Behavioural Epidemiology. The ‘Fit and Well’ study will examine the prevalence, trends and factors influencing population-level engagement in the Australian health and fitness industry.

Dr Bennie stated “as physical activity and public health scientists, our most important and challenging task is to translate research into ‘real world’ practice. The ISEAL-Fitness Australia research collaboration provides potential to examine the opportunity for the fitness industry to integrate into public health approaches to chronic disease prevention. My colleagues at ISEAL and I are very excited about this project, and we look forward producing relevant and important public health-related research.”

Other research activities will consider the demographic, environmental and health trends which will impact most on how the fitness industry delivers its services.

Physical inactivity in Australia is estimated to cost the economy $13.8 billion and the majority of this cost is attributed to the loss of productivity in the workforce. Adults that participate in the fitness industry can reduce avoidable health costs by approximately $77 million a year by minimising their risk or managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Stace concluded “with an ageing population and the rise of chronic conditions, the fitness industry is an integral part of the health system because we can deliver structured programs to help improve the populations’ health, and ultimately avoid hospital.

“But in doing this, we need to build the evidence to enable health practitioners to recommend structured exercise to their patients and exercise professionals to be able to adopt strategies and programs that are known to be effective.”

The ISEAL Fitness Industry Research Program will see population health experts and exercise professionals work collaboratively to build best practices that will allow the fitness industry to broaden its contribution to public health outcomes. 

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