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More adult Kiwis Are Getting Off the Couch!

Media Release

More adult Kiwis Are Getting Off the Couch!

It appears a worrying trending is developing - fewer young New Zealanders are keeping active. It's National Push Play Day on Friday this week, and SPARC has released its latest research that shows adult New Zealanders are more active than they were three years ago.

However, the research also shows a dip in the number of young people getting regular physical activity (from 69% to 66%). This trend is consistent with studies that have suggested physical activity is declining and obesity is increasing.

Hill said, "this is a significant concern for SPARC. It seems traditional sport and physical activity is now competing against an increasing range of digital entertainment. Clearly the implications for New Zealand in terms of health are enormous if this apparent trend isn't addressed."

In 1997 the Couch Potato index was 33% meaning 33% of the adult population was active for less than 2.5 hours per week. The latest research (based on figures from 2000) shows that the Couch Potato Index has dropped to 30%. This means that over 140,000 adults are now more active than they were three years ago.

Nick Hill, CEO of SPARC says "this is a great start but we need to get even more people off the couch. More people die each year from inactivity related causes than are killed on our roads. The links between physical inactivity and health problems that this causes can't be ignored."

Hill says "Push Play Day is a celebration of physical activity. If you are regularly active, take the time to give yourself a pat on the back. For those people thinking about getting more active Push Play Day is a great time to start building physical activity into your daily routine. Remember - it's easy to be active and never too late to start."

"It's about everyday people leading everyday lives. People need to understand that 30 minutes a day of moderate level physical activity will add hugely to their health prospects and quality of life" says Hill. "In addition, our highly successful Green Prescriptions programme may also be contributing to the adult activity increase."

SPARC is developing several initiatives aimed at making it easier and more attractive for young people to be active.

· SPARC is currently developing a youth participation strategy that will create a Government framework to promote physical activity for young people across a range of sectors.

· Next year SPARC and the Ministry of Education are piloting a programme in sixteen primary schools aimed at getting young people to understand the benefits of regular physical activity.

· SPARC is also supporting the Kiwi Kids Walkathon in June 2003, Polyfest in March 2003 and the Bikewise Mountain Jam, April and May 2003.

Push Play is about getting more Kiwis more active more often. Regular moderate physical activity makes you feel great, gives you energy and has many health benefits. Regular activity can help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, reduce feeling of depression and the risk of high blood pressure.

Wash the car, mow the lawns, take the stairs instead of the lift or just play with the kids - it is that simple!

8 November is SPARC's National Push Play Day. Regional sports trusts, local authorities and schools throughout New Zealand are organising events to get their local communities active. Call 0800 ACTIVE (0800 228 482) or click on to find out more.

- ends-


Regular physical activity is defined as 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.

A summary of the research can be found on the Push Play website at from 10am Monday 4 November.

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