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Page updated: 16 January 2012

The Physical Activity Taskforce has ceased operation and this website is no longer updated.

Updated: 16 January 2012

Why Prioritise Physical Activity?

 

Physical activity is not just about ‘health’ or ‘sport and recreation’. Prioritising physical activity has multiple benefits overall health, social, economic and environmental benefits for the community.

 

The Benefits for Local Government and the Community

Local Government can play a vital role in increasing physical activity levels by delivering a range of community initiatives as well as creating conducive environments that support physical activity.

Some of the social, economic, environmental and health benefits to be gained when members of the community participate in regular physical activity include:

  • Health Costs - saving an estimated $144 million per year in health costs for WA, if a five per cent increase in physical activity can be achieved;
  • Chronic Disease Prevention - reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease, mental health issues, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, musculoskeletal conditions, asthma and overweight and obesity;
  • Overall Health – improved physical and mental health and wellbeing of community members;
  • Environmental - addressing climate change by reducing green house gases and air pollution when people replace car trips with walking, cycling or public transport;  
  • Social Cohesion – neighbourhood revitalisation, increased sense of community identity and feelings of ‘belonging’ and expansion of social networks; 
  • Safer Communities - as there are more people out and about with more eyes on the street;      
  • Place Activation - areas becoming ‘hubs’ for social interaction and increased sense of community;       
  • Economic – helps to reverse the high economic costs of inactivity in terms of health and social services; and,     
  • Tourism – many people want to visit places where they can be active and be “out and about”.

These co-benefits are visually shown in the following diagram and are listed below.

The Multiple Benefits of Physical Activity Diagram

Health Benefits

Increases

  • Fitness, stamina and energy
  • Lean muscle, muscle strength and bone density
  • Flexibility, coordination, balance and development of a wide range of motor skills
  • Improved immune system
  • Healthy ageing, mobility, independence and quality of life in older adults
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Concentration

Reduces

  • Chronic illness and disability
  • Mortality rates and risk of dying prematurely
  • Risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • Risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Risk of colo-rectal and breast cancer
  • Risk of asthma
  • Risk of osteoporosis and symptoms of arthritis
  • Body fat, overweight and obesity
  • Falls and injuries in older people
  • Risk of developing dementia
  • Feelings of fatigue, depression, stress and anxiety
  • Risk of menstrual symptoms, constipation and back pain
  • Risk of postnatal depression
  • Demand on health services

Supports

  • Improved sleep and rehabilitation
  • Weight management
  • Cognitive functioning, memory, learning and better performance at school
  • Improved mood, quality of life, sense of wellbeing and long term health


Social Benefits

Increases

  • Active and vibrant community hubs
  • Social skills and networks
  • Social capital and community connections
  • Access to services and resources
  • Independent living
  • Improved communication, team building, leadership and cooperation skills
  • Volunteering
  • Community participation in recreational and social activities

Reduces

  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Antisocial behaviour

Supports

  • Stronger, connected communities
  • Community inclusion and public enjoyment
  • Community cohesion and capacity building
  • Crime prevention
  • Cultural links through activities

Environmental Benefits

Increases

  • Uptake of active transport, walkability and economic viability of local areas
  • Influences the development of well planned and designed spaces

Reduces

  • Traffic congestion, air and noise pollution
  • Use of fossil fuels and energy use
  • Greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and climate change impacts
  • Demand for major road infrastructure (roads, car parks)

Supports

  • Incidental activity
  • Community safety
  • Settings for active living
  • Improved public access and linkages to neighbourhoods and key activity centres
  • Improved connectivity


Economic Benefits

Increases

  • Tourism
  • Retail
  • Business and employment opportunities
  • Investment opportunities
  • Productivity and growth

Reduces

  • Vandalism costs
  • Absenteeism
  • Workplace accidents/injury and workers compensation claims
  • Health care costs and claims
  • Pressure on insurance premiums for employers
  • Staff turnover
  • High costs of passenger transport and infrastructure

Supports

  • Local business
  • Attracts workforce
  • Active and healthy employees and workplaces
  • The Multiple Benefits of Physical Activity

The benefits of physical activity are well documented and while this list is not exhaustive it encompasses a collective consensus of evidence based outcomes.


Related Resources

Active Living for All

Active Living for All

Launched on Thursday 15 December 2011, the Active Living for All framework represents the strategic direction for increasing and improving opportunities for physical activity in Western Australia (WA) over the next five years (2012 - 2016).

Blueprint for an Active Australia

Blueprint for an Active Australia

Developed by the National Heart Foundation, 'Blueprint for an active Australia' provides key information to help governments, organisations, associations and agencies formulate a national physical activity plan for action.

Resource type:Publications
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Relevance: National
Year published: 2009

Creating Active Communities: Physical Activity Guidelines for Local Councils

Creating Active Communities: Physical Activity Guidelines for Local Councils

Developed by the Department of Local Government, NSW Health Department, NSW Sport and Recreation, National Heart Foundation of Australia (NSW Division). The purpose of this guide is to provide local governments with a practical resource that will assist them to encourage local communities to be more physically active.

Resource type:Publications
Tags: , ,
Relevance: State
Year published: 2008

Local Government Active Living Strategy

Local Government Active Living Strategy

The Taskforce developed a Local Government Active Living Strategy which aimed to support Local Government through a coordinated and collaborative approach to key issues that impact on opportunities for active living within the community.

Resource type:Publications
Tags: , , , , ,
Relevance: State
Year published: 2011