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Overweight Aussies Don’t Have Time to be Active

Overweight Aussies Don’t Have Time to be Active
October 28, 2010

Just 13% of the Australian adult population exercise on a daily basis while one quarter (25%) of Aussies are obese and a further 29% are overweight.

According to the results of a survey commissioned by Fitness First Australia, 41% of Australians acknowledge they are inactive. Among the 73% of Australians who would like to exercise more, lack of time is the biggest hurdle to being active (56%), while 47% find it hard to get motivated to exercise.

One in four (25%) find meeting family needs a barrier to exercise and work pressures are keeping 24% from working out. 

Surprisingly the 18-24 age group see lack of time as a hurdle to exercising more than any other age group.

Launching the findings of the research, conducted by Galaxy Research in August 2010 and involving a group of 1,263 people aged 18+ years across the country, Grant Twible, Fitness Director at Fitness First Australia, said the findings are “a symptom of modern day life, where people know they need to improve their health and fitness and want to do something about it but either can’t be bothered, don’t have time in their busy lives to make health a priority or are just so strung out and tired by other demands that they don’t have the energy to dedicate to looking after themselves.

“However, with more than half the Australian adult population either overweight or obese, physical activity must become a priority in conjunction with healthy eating in order to prevent serious health problems.

“It’s encouraging that walking and running or jogging are the most popular exercises as these are activities anyone can do, anytime and anywhere as a simple, but important step in maintaining health and fitness.

“It’s interesting the research showed people with busy schedules are actually the people working out most, with 29% of full time workers exercising three to six times per week.

“This reinforces what we already know - once you start a regular exercise program it becomes an important part of your lifestyle that you enjoy and want to make time for as it improves your wellbeing.”

The Fitness First survey also found that:

• Queensland is the most overweight state, with 60% of the adult population in the overweight or obese BMI range. 
• Victoria and Tasmania are the states with the lowest number of overweight or obese people with 44% in the relevant BMI (Body Mass Index) range. 36% of Victorians and Tasmanians are in the normal weight range, more than any other state.
• 55% of people in NSW are overweight or obese yet 70% of NSW residents say they are healthy.
• 58% of South Australians fall into the overweight or obese BMI range and among those who would like to exercise more 30% say lack of motivation is the biggest reason preventing them from exercising.
• 59% of West Australians are overweight or obese and only 7% consider themselves to be very active while 11% say they are exercising a lot less than a year ago.
• 32% of all Australians say they are exercising less than they did 12 months ago.
• The average exercise session of active Australians is 44 minutes, which is above the recommended 30 minutes.
• Active West Australians lead the way in exercise session time, with 40% spending the recommended 30-59 minutes on each exercise session. 
• 17% of married men exercise on a daily basis compared to 11% of married women, which may indicate women in marriages or de facto relationships are amongst the 13% of married people who say the biggest reason preventing them from exercising is family needs. 

• General health and wellbeing motivates the majority of active people with 58% reporting this is the main reason they exercise.
• Walking was the most popular form of exercise with both men and women across all age groups (71%), followed by running or jogging (15%). Swimming or surfing and cycling were equally popular at 12%, followed by using equipment or weights at a gym (11%), individual sports such as tennis or golf (9%), team sports (8%), yoga or pilates (6%) and groups exercise classes (5%).
• Australians aged 50 years and over are more likely to exercise by walking (75%) or swimming (14%) while those aged 18-34 years run or jog (25%), play team sport (18%) or play individual sports (14%).
• 21% of West Australians cycle for exercise – almost twice that of any other state or territory, reflecting the flat terrain and the wealth of good cycle paths. 
• 11% of active South Australians play team sport for exercise, more than other states or territories on a population ratio. South Australians also have the highest ratio of gym members (16%) and use weights and equipment at the gym more than other states.
• Individual sports such as tennis or golf are more popular as exercise in NSW than any other state or territory, with 12% of people in NSW rating individual sports as an exercise activity. Nationally, 14% of men use individual sports as exercise compared to 3% of women.
• Yoga or Pilates is more popular with women than men as exercise, with 11% of women selecting these practises as exercise compared to 2% of men, yet it’s excellent for increased flexibility and core strength and for reducing stress levels.

The results show much can be done to improve the health and fitness of Australians, but two in three people (67%) believe Governments should do more to encourage Australians to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.

However, Grant Twible says while the world we live in is busy, stressful and full of unhealthy food choices, there are simple steps individuals can take to improve their health and fitness, adding “incorporating exercise into your daily routine can be easy - be mindful of all the small opportunities to be active during the day as it all adds up.”

Fitness First recommend a series of simple tips to increase your activity levels and improve your fitness:

• Add more movement into your everyday routine. It can be as simple as taking the stairs or walking to your local shops. Be mindful of sitting down for extended periods, or getting swallowed by the couch.
• Incorporate some functional training into your exercise programs. For example, if you are walking add a set of squats, step-ups and push-ups at the park bench
• Stay mobile and help avoid injury with a purposeful flexibility program. Choose from simple range of motion exercises before activity or to start the day, to a dedicated mind/body program like yoga or Pilates.
• Manage your metabolism and energy levels by planning to eat regular healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. Waiting until you are hungry to make food choices, often leads to poor nutritional decisions.
• Get some good quality rest and recovery. Eight hours sleep a night, or the weekend siesta is not a guilty pleasure - they serve to rejuvenate us.

Body Mass Index (BMI is a measure of body weight based on a person's weight and height, used to estimate a healthy body weight based on a person's height, assuming an average body composition.

BMI measurements:
Obese = BMI 30+ 
Overweight = BMI 25-29.9 
Normal - Underweight = BMI <25

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