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Time to Act on Establishing Active Cities

Heart Foundation Spokesperson on Physical Activity Trevor Shilton has welcomed a new Series, published in The Lancet, that quantifies the health gains that could be achieved if cities incentivised the shift to active-friendly environments including more focus on walking, cycling and public transport.

The Heart Foundation’s award-winning Healthy Active by Design website portal is singled out in the Lancet as an example of world-leading practice.

Comment from Trevor Shilton – Heart Foundation Spokesperson for Physical Activity:

“Mounting evidence on the compelling links between heart health and the places where we live vindicates the Heart Foundation’s decision to make healthy and active design a priority.

“Modelling in the Lancet for the cities of Melbourne, London and Boston found that in the case of Melbourne – implementing changes that made the city more conductive to walking, cycling and public transport could reduce the burden of heart disease by 19%.

“Physical inactivity is a grossly under-rated risk factor of heart disease, estimated to cause 14,000 deaths annually, costing the health budget an estimated $1.5bn per year and is one of the big four risk factors behind our chronic disease epidemic responsible for 21% of the cardiovascular disease burden.”

“Planning for being a healthy and active city is catching on globally and for good reason – these places are more productive, more liveable, clean, vibrant, safe and friendly, have lower crime and of course, they are healthier.

“People who live in healthy active cities have lower heart disease, healthier bodies, lower blood pressure and better mental health.

“People with open spaces around their homes are more active and they report 37% lower hospitalisations and 16% lower heart disease than those in neighbourhoods with few open spaces.

“We need to incentivise through policies and environments to encourage people to choose alternative travel options rather than always taking the car.

“Investment in cycling and walking infrastructure reduces road congestion, leading to a reduction in pollution and encouraging people to be more active and in turn, healthier.

“The traffic congestion cost for Australian cities was estimated at $16.5bn last year, which is up from $12.8bn five years earlier.

“Governments at all levels have a critical role to play in promoting active travel – but it must be firmly embedded in transport and urban policy, not just an afterthought.”

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