This blog will address the market research conducted by the Australian Health Department and the formation of the ‘National Health Priority Areas’. Further more it will assess the government’s research into Physical Activity and the creation of the National Physical Activity guidelines.
Physical activity has become recognized as an essential tool to living a healthy lifestyle and has been linked to many health outcomes. According the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011), being regularly physically active has been shown to lower risks in developing Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Asthma, Arthritis, and Type 2 Diabetes, all of which have been considered a “National Health Priority Area” by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013). According to the World Health Organization, (2009), 30% of global ischemic heart disease, 27% of Diabetes and 21-25 % of breast and colon cancer can be attributed to physical activity. Therefore, it can be said that not achieving a sufficient amount of physical activity can potentially lead to a higher risk in relative diseases, whilst maintaining regular physical activity levels lowers that risk.
The prevalence of physical activity among adults is low. According to the Australian Health Survey (2013), in 2011-12, 60% of adults accumulated less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day on average, whilst less than 20% accumulated an hour or more. Only 43% of Adults were “sufficiently active” in meeting the National Physical Activity Guidelines (2014) of 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. This however, does display a positive trend in physical activity levels over time, with overall participation increasing from 22% in 2007-8 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011), but is still at a level considered insufficient to infer the benefits associated with physical activity. This highlights the need to further promote the awareness of physical activity, and its benefits to the adult population.
When creating the National Physical Activity Guidelines and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines (2015), the Australian Government conducted many cross sectional analyses using data from the ABS (2014), as well as examining existing studies to determine the effect of Physical Activity on the national health priority areas ie. Diabetes, Obesity etc. From this , they were able to identify the areas of most importance, and determine the sufficient level of exercise required for each age group. For example, Adults aged 18-60 are required to spend at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity 5-7 days per week to remain healthy. Similarly, through examination of past studies, it was found sedentary behaviour was a significant contributor to poor health, and from which the sedentary guidelines were formed.
Data collection measures varied, but a majority of the quantitative information gathered was from the National Health Survey (2013), a nation wide survey depicting trends from 2011-13, including health risk factors (such as tobacco smoking and Body Mass Index); selected long-term health conditions and blood pressure.
As mentioned, the Australian Government would have gathered data and recommendations from existing studies, for example the piece written buy(Kruger, Kohl III & Miles 2007). This paper represents a longitudinal study analyzing the effects of physical activity among adults from 2001 – 2005. This study, like many others may have proved useful in determining the sufficient guidelines for physical activity among adults.
The Physical Activity guidelines and National Health priority areas are important for improving the overall health and well being of Australians. In this present day, the amount of past and ongoing research regarding this area is large, which gives the Australian Government an opportunity to form valid and reliable polices to address the ongoing health issues within Australia.