Walking Hailed as Best Step Towards Improving Health of Australia’s Disadvantaged
Heart Foundation Walking, the largest network of free community based walking groups and virtual walkers in Australia, has been hailed as a best practice example for positively impacting the health of Australia’s socioeconomically disadvantaged groups.
The debate piece, published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, looked to explore the role behavioural scientists can play in addressing socioeconomic inequities in nutrition, physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
Despite the many known barriers to behaviour change faced by those experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, Heart Foundation Walking has been celebrated in the debate piece as an initiative that shows it is possible to engage with, and promote healthy behaviours amongst this community.
National Heart Foundation Walking Manager, Michelle Wilson said Heart Foundation Walking exemplifies a universal approach to physical activity promotion, targeting the whole population, including but not limited to, socioeconomically disadvantaged participants.
“Socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals are known to be less likely to engage in eating and physical activity behaviours beneficial to good health and are more likely to face inequities in obesity and health outcomes,” said Ms Wilson.
“However the problem extends to more than half of the Australian adult population who are not active enough to gain the health and wellbeing benefits of being physically active, such as reduced blood pressure, improved mental health, and maintaining a healthy weight.
“The Heart Foundation encourages every Australian to move more and sit less, with the simple act of walking for 30 minutes a day or more reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as half.
“Heart Foundation Walking offers a free and social community-based program that encourages people from all walks of life and fitness levels to engage in and experience the benefits of regular physical activity.”
Heart Foundation Walking also offers the support of an online community through its virtual walking groups created for those who either cannot access the walking groups due to distance or other barriers, or simply prefer to walk on their own.
The Heart Foundation Walking groups also cater for a range of specialty groups with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Heart Foundation Walking has been operating for over 20 years and currently engages over 24,000 participants across its 1,300 walking groups across Australia.
To join a walking group or start one of your own in your local area, visit the Heart Foundation Walking website or call 1300 36 27 87.
Heart Foundation Walking is funded nationally by the Medibank Community Fund. It is also proudly funded by the Queensland Government and the ACT Government through ACT Health.