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Get A Move On For World Health Day

4 April, 2002

New Zealanders need to get a move on to reduce the chance they'll number among the 2 million people dying worldwide each year from physical inactivity.

That's the message being shared with individuals and societies by the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health and Sport and Recreation New Zealand as part of World Health Day on Sunday April 7.

This year's theme of Move for Health is a reminder that physical activity is more than a lifesaver -- it's also free, fun and full of health benefits, says Deputy Director General of Public Health Dr Don Matheson.

"We're designed to move and burn up food as energy but our mastery of technology means we often no longer need to. This is unprecedented in history and it's having a serious effect on our physical and mental health. The major epidemics our world faces are now diseases such as obesity, diabetes and depression. This is the case for both developed and developing countries."

A sedentary lifestyle doubles the risk you'll become obese and it also increases your chances of suffering depression and anxiety. It means you face twice the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and substantially increases your risk of colon cancer, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.

The minimum exercise required to prevent disease is 30 minutes of moderate activity most days, along with good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Adding some vigorous activity can further increase health and fitness.

"Be active every day in as many ways as possible and see movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience. When you walk briskly, play, skate, garden, clean the house, dance, or climb stairs, you are moving for health," Dr Matheson said.

Regular, moderate physical activity is also beneficial to mental health, said Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Alison Taylor.

"There's a body of research that shows the beneficial effects of physical activity on mental well-being, particularly for people who have mild to moderate depression or who have anxiety. For everyone, from children to older people, regular activity increases confidence, self-esteem, coping skills, cognitive functioning and a sense of achievement."

Opportunities to try out activities ranging from line dancing to tai chi are being organised around the country this week by Sport and Recreation New Zealand, regional public health services and regional sports trusts.

Over 50s in Wellington can get free health checks on Wednesday 10 April and join in with recreational activities on at the second Push Play Healthy Community Day in Porirua and Karori, said Sport and Recreation New Zealand Senior Adviser, Health, Diana O'Neill. More than 60 medical students will be giving participants health assessments that include blood pressure and blood sugar checks, with support from other health professionals and agencies.

Sport and Recreation NZ is supporting the event through its Push Play programmes, including the Green Prescription Scheme, which encourages doctors and practice nurses to give their patients written advice to be physically active with additional support through Regional Sports Trusts.

"We welcome the opportunity to work with other agencies concerned about the health of New Zealanders. By advocating the benefits of physical activity to medical students we believe doctors of the future will be in an even better position than at present to pass this message on to their patients."

The Ministry of Health is also working on a Healthy Action - Healthy Eating strategy to develop a co-ordinated approach to increasing physical activity among New Zealanders, improving nutrition and achieving healthy weight, said Dr Matheson.


Useful links: World Health Organization: World Health Day website: Health Canada: World Health Day website: Sport and Recreation New Zealand: Bike Wise: Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority:

WHO Video tape message on World Health Day available A video taped message for World Health Day delivered by the Regional Director of WHO (Dr Shigeru Omi) is available from Anne-Marie Robinson, Media Advisor (contact details above).

Events marking World Health Day

Sport and Recreation/Health sector New Zealand calendar of events

Sport Bay of Plenty Event/activity: Girls Golf camp at Opotiki Date/Time 11th ? 12th April Contact Lesley Noel, Coach Force Golf Sport Development Officer, Ph 07 578 0016

Event/activity: Whakatane District Council School Holiday Programme Date/Time: 2nd - 12th April Contact: Delina Dibben, Sport Bay of Plenty District Manager Eastern Bay of Plenty, Ph 07 308 8304

Event/activity: CNZ Squash specific at Rotorua Lakes High School Date/Time: 6th ? 7th April Contact: Cheryl Te Kani-McQueen, Coach Force Squash Sport Development Officer, Ph 07 348 4125

Event/activity: CNZ 1 Generic at Rotorua Date/Time: 13th & 20th April Contact: Mike Diamond, Sport Bay of Plenty District Manager Rotorua District, Ph 07 348 4125

Event/activity: CNZ 2 Generic at Tauranga Date/Time: 13,14 and 20th April Contact: Greg Cummings, Sport Bay of Plenty District Manager, Western Bay of Plenty, Ph 07 578 0016

Sport Eastland Event/activity: Push Play Heart Walk Location: Three Bridges, Gisborne Date/Time: 8th April, 12.15 pm-1.45 pm Description: A brisk walk around the Three Bridges. Begins at the Peel Street end of Treble Court. Contact: Michelle Lexmond, Active Living Co-ordinator, Sport Eastland, (06) 868 9943 Partners involved:Heart Foundation and YMCA

Event/activity: Like Minds Push Play Date/Time: 11th April, 5.30 pm ? 6.00 pm Description: A brisk walk around the Three Bridges beginning from Marina Park Contact: Michelle Lexmond, Active Living Co-ordinator Sport Eastland, (06) 868 9943 Partners involved:Like Minds, Like Mine Project

Event/activity: Te Puna Wairoa Walking Group Date/Time: 9th & 12th April, 8.30 am ? 9.00 am both days Description: The staff of Te Puna Waiora (the funder arm of Tairawhiti District Health Board) undertake a brisk 3.8km walk. Starts from Te Puna Waiora offices, Gisborne Hospital. Supporting Healthy Active workplaces ? leading by example! Contact: Michelle Lexmond, Active Living Co-ordinator Sport Eastland, (06) 868 9943 Partners involved:Te Puna Waiora Gisborne/East Coast Cancer Society

Sport Southland Event/activity: Otaiti Bush to Riverton Walk Location: McDermotts in Winton Date/Time: 11th April, 9.30am-1.30pm Description: Kiwi Seniors Walk ? but anyone is welcome to come and try to keep up with the seniors. Cost $10.00 Registration: Friday 5th April Contact: Nicola (03) 236 7921

Event/activity: Five Rivers Walk Location: Feldwick Gates, Invercargill Date/Time: 11th April, 8.30 am ? 4.30 pm Description: Leaves from Feldwick Gates. Bus trip to Five Rivers for walk and bring your own lunch and drinks. Cost approx $10.00 Registration: Friday 5th April Contact: Lee Tuki, Active Living Co-ordinator Sport Southland, (03) 214 7159

Event/activity: White Stone River walk Location: Te Anau Date/Time: 10th April, 9.30 am ? 11.30 am Description: Meet at DOC long term carpark Te Anau. Easy walking up the Whitestone River. Registration: Friday 5th April Contact: Helen (03) 249 7833

Event/activity: Over 40's Try-a-thon - Queenstown Location: Peak Fitness Gym Date/Time: 8th April (all day) Description: Peak Fitness Gym in Queenstown are launching a programme for inactive over 40 year olds Contact: Jay (03) 442 8887

Sport Taranaki Event/activity: Move it or Lose it Location: TSB Stadium, New Plymouth Date/Time: 8th ? 11th April, 9am-10am both days Description: A fun low impact exercise class for all ages and stages. Costs $2 for members, $3 for non members. Contact: Moira Koch, Active Living Manager, Sport Taranaki (06) 759 0930 Partners involved:Arthritis Foundation

Event/activity: Active In Age Location: TSB Stadium, New Plymouth Date/Time: 9th April, 10am ? 12pm Description: Enjoy a variety of activities including a gentle exercise to music class, walk through Pukekura Park, line dancing, marching, tai chi and petanque. Contact: Dawn (06) 759 0905

Event/activity: Active In Age Location: Memorial Hall, Waitara Date/Time: 8th April, 9.30am ? 11 am Description: A fun low impact gentle exercise to music class Contact: Moira Koch, Active Living Manager Sport Taranaki (06) 759 0930 Partners involved:Arthritis Foundation (06) 759 0068

Event/activity: Move it or Lose it Location: Henvi Street, Fitzroy, New Plymouth Date/Time: 12th April, 10am ? 11am Description: Gentle exercise programme, upright or seated, you choose. Contact: Moira Koch, Active Living Manager, Sport Taranaki (06) 759 0930 Partners involved:Arthritis Foundation (06) 759 0068

Event/activity: Fit for Life Location: Urenui Health Centre Date/Time: 8th April, 11am ? 12pm Description: Activities include line dancing and group fitness with flexibility and strength training. Contact: Moira Koch, Active Living Manager, Sport Taranaki (06) 759 0930 Partners involved: Urenui Health Centre (06) 752 3268

Event/activity: Kiwi Seniors Exercises Location: Opunake Date/Time: 8th April, 10.30am ? 11.30 am Description: A fun morning of gentle exercises to music, beginner line dancing and leisure marching. Contact: Molly Harvey (06) 761 8220

Event/activity: Happening Holiday Programme - Sportsmania Location: Hawera Date/Time: 10th April, 11am ? 3pm Description: Holiday programme. Contact: Jill Denoon, KiwiSport Advisor Sport Taranaki (06) 759 0930

Event/activity: Happening Holiday Programme - Sportsmania Location: Manaia Primary School Date/Time: 11th April, 11am ? 3pm Description: Holiday programme. Contact: Jill Denoon, KiwiSport Advisor Sport Taranaki (06) 759 0930

Sport Tasman Event/activity: Rollos Nelson Adventure Race Location: Nelson Date/Time: 13th - 14th April, 8am-12pm both days Description: A 24 hour adventure race suitable for all abilities.

Cost ? over $10 Contact: Chris James, Organiser, (03) 545 1666 or (025) 442 124

Event/activity: Holiday Programme ? Boredom Busters Location: Tasman District Council Date/Time: 7th ? 14th April Contact: Jacqui Taynor, (03) 544 3403

Event/activity: 50 Plus Walking Groups Location: Speargrass Creek, Nelson Date/Time: 11th April Contact: Bob McKenzie, (03) 540 2797

Event/activity: 50 Plus Walking Groups Location: Lake Sylvester, Golden Bay Date/Time: 13th April Contact: Tonie Watts, (03) 525 9353

Event/activity: Club 50 Holiday Programme Craft Day Date/Time: 9th April Contact: Sam, (03) 544 0304

Sport Wanganui Event/activity: Club Gold Walking Group Location: Sport Wanganui, 40 Maria Place Extension, Wanganui Date/Time: 9th ? 11th April, 9am ? 10am Description: Meet at Sport Wanganui office. 5k Walk split into two groups ? slow walkers and fast walkers. $3 fee. Contact: Penina Kenworthy, Active Living Co-ordinator Sport Wanganui (06) 348 1440

Event/activity: Sit and Be Fit Location: All Saints Church Hall Date/Time: 9th April, 11am ? 11.45am Description: Exercise to music from a chair. Gentle pace exercise.

$3 fee. Contact: Penina Kenworthy, Active Living Co-ordinator Sport Wanganui (06) 348 1440

Event/activity: Kiwi Seniors Marton/Rangitikei Location: Marton Memorial Hall Date/Time: 11th April, 9am ? 11am Description: 1/2 hour of gentle aerobics then a choice of badminton, bowls or walking for a further ½ hour. Morning tea included. $3 fee. Contact: Penina Kenworthy, Active Living Co-ordinator Sport Wanganui (06) 348 1440

Sport Waitakere Event/activity: Special Interest Walk Location: Pae O te Rangi Farm, Waitakene Ranges Date/Time: 12th April, 10am ? 12.30pm Description: A guided walk over Pae O te Rangi Farm in the Waitakene Ranges. Contact: Kay Lindley, Active Living Manager Sport Waitakere (09) 836 6635

Event/activity: School Holiday Programme Location: Hoami Waititi Marae Date/Time: 2nd ? 12th April, 9am ? 3pm Description: School Holiday Programme with He Tikanga Maori component. Registration: By 29th March Contact: Kay Lindley, Active Living Manager Sport Waitakere (09) 836 6635

Sport Wellington - Wairarapa Event/activity: Sit & Be Fit presentation and static Display Location: Masterton Library Date/Time 7th ? 14th April Description: Video presentation playing "Sit and Be Fit" video plus static display. Contact Dayle Clarkson, District Co-ordinator & Regional Sports Director (06) 370 9229

Event/activity: Aerobics NRG+ Location: YMCA Masterton Date/Time 8th April, 5.30pm ? 6.30pm Description: Free class ? limited spaces available. Contact Shelley Milburn, Gym Manager (06) 377 5499

Event/activity: Stretch 'n' Flex Location: YMCA Masterton Date/Time 9th April, 9.00am ? 9.30am Description: Free class ? limited spaces available. Contact Shelley Milburn, Gym Manager (06) 377 5499

Event/activity: Gym Workout Location: YMCA Masterton Date/Time 9th April, 5.30pm ? 8.00pm Description: Free class ? limited spaces available. Contact Shelley Milburn, Gym Manager (06) 377 5499

Event/activity: Aerobics NRG+ Location: YMCA Masterton Date/Time 10th April, 5.30pm ? 6.30pm Description: Free class ? limited spaces available. Contact Shelley Milburn, Gym Manager (06) 377 5499

Event/activity: Stretch 'n' Flex Location: YMCA Masterton Date/Time 11th April, 9.00am ? 9.30am Description: Free class ? limited spaces available. Contact Shelley Milburn, Gym Manager (06) 377 5499

Event/activity: Tai Chi Location: YMCA Masterton Date/Time 11th April, 5.30pm ? 6.30pm Description: Free class ? limited spaces available. Contact Shelley Milburn, Gym Manager (06) 377 5499

Event/activity: Fitness Circuit Location: YMCA Masterton Date/Time 12th April, 5.30pm ? 6.15pm Description: Free class ? limited spaces available. Contact Shelley Milburn, Gym Manager (06) 377 5499

Ministry of Health/health sector AUCKLAND Event/activity: Walk for Health Date/Time: 7 April, 12.00-2.00pm Description: A brisk walk in Hayman Park. Event started with speech from guest speaker the Deputy Mayor. Walk will be followed by a healthy lunch. Contact: Ta'i Matenga-Smith, Pacific Islands Nutrition Educator, Public Health Promotion, Auckland District Health Board (09) 261-1620 ext 5196

WAIKATO Event/activity: Bike/Walk to Work Day Date/Time: Monday 8 April Description: Thames Hospital Staff Contact: Su Milburn, Thames Community Health (07) 8686550

Event/activity: Walk Date/Time: Tuesday 9 April Description: Meeting at St Georges Church at 12.00 noon. Contact: Su Askwith, Thames Community Health (07) 8686550, Raewyn Howes, Sport Waikato (07) 8686025, Maria Julian, Te Korowai Hauora O Hauraki (07) 8685375

RUATORIA Event/activity: School Holiday Programmes/Kaumatua Group Day Date/Time: Tuesday 9 April Description: Ngati Porou Victims Support participating in school holiday programmes and kaumatua group day Contact: Raewyn Rickard , Thames Community Health (07) 8686550

WELLINGTON Event/activity: Walk for Health Date/Time: 11th April, 12.00pm Description: A brisk walk to the Botanical Gardens and through Thorndon Contact: Grant McLean, Senior Analyst, Ministry of Health, (04) 495-4374 Partners involved:Sport and Recreation New Zealand

TARANAKI Event/activity: Walk events, free access to swimming pools Date/Time: 7 to 13 April Description: as above Contact: Bev Rea, community Dietitian, Health Promotion Unit, Taranaki Healthcare, (06) 753-7799 Partners involved:Local councils

MANAWATU Event/activity: Hikoi Date/Time: 7 to 13 April Description: Hikoi throughout the week Contact: Evelyn Takarangi, Mäori Nutrition and Physical Activity Adviser, Whakapai Hauora (Bestcare), (06) 353-6385

Questions and Answers

Q: Why is physical activity so important?

A: Regular moderate physical activity is one of the easiest ways to improve and maintain your health. The health benefits of regular physical activity are numerous. Regular physical activity: reduces the risk of dying prematurely reduces the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, which are responsible for one-third of all deaths reduces the risk of developing heart disease or colon cancer by up to 50 percent reduces the risk of developing type II diabetes 50 percent helps to prevent / reduce hypertension, which affects one-fifth of the world's adult population helps to prevent / reduce osteoporosis, reducing the risk of hip fracture by up to 50 percent in women reduces the risk of developing lower back pain promotes psychological well-being, reduces stress, anxiety and feelings of depression and loneliness helps prevent or control risky behaviours, especially among children and young people, like tobacco, alcohol or other substance use, unhealthy diet or violence helps control weight and lower the risk of becoming obese by 50 percent compared to people with sedentary lifestyles helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints and makes people with chronic, disabling conditions improve their stamina can help in the management of painful conditions, such as back pain or knee pain We all know that physical activity?taking a walk, riding a bike, dancing or playing?simply makes you feel better. But regular physical activity brings about many other benefits. It not only has the potential to improve and maintain good health, but it can also bring with it important social and economic benefits. Regular physical activity benefits communities and economies in terms of reduced health care costs, increased productivity, better performance at schools, lower worker absenteeism and turnover, increased productivity and increased participation in sports and recreational activities. In many countries, a significant proportion of health spending is due to costs related to lack of physical activity and obesity. Promoting physical activity can be a highly cost-effective and sustainable public health intervention.

Q: How does physical activity actually help physiologically?

A: Physical activity generally benefits health by acting on the intermediary physiological factors that affect health status (for example, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen uptake, functioning of the metabolism, strengthening muscles). Physical activity needs to be regular to benefit health. Taking one example, physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes by improving circulation of oxygen to the coronary arteries and stabilising the cells inside the arteries, reducing the likelihood of clots. Adequate physical activity should be accompanied by good nutrition to provide the fuel for activity.

Q: Is sedentary lifestyle really a global public health problem? Aren't there more important health priorities, especially in poor countries?

A: The lack of physical activity is a major underlying cause of death, disease, and disability. Preliminary data from a WHO study on risk factors suggest that inactivity, or sedentary lifestyle, is one of the ten leading global causes of death and disability. More than 2 million deaths each year are attributable to physical inactivity. In countries around the world between 60 percent and 85 percent of adults are simply not active enough to benefit their health. In the rapidly growing cities of the developing world, crowding, poverty, crime, traffic, poor air quality, a lack of parks, sidewalks, sports and recreation facilities and other safe areas make physical activity a difficult choice. For example, in São Paulo, Brazil, 70 percent of the population is inactive. Even in rural areas of developing countries, sedentary pastimes such as watching television are increasingly popular. In addition to other lifestyle changes, the consequences are growing levels of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Low- and middle-income countries suffer the greatest impact from these and other noncommunicable diseases ? 77 percent of the total number of deaths caused by noncommunicable diseases occur in developing countries. These diseases are on the rise. They will have an increasingly severe effect on health care systems, resources, and economies in countries around the world.

Q: What can be done?

A: Most noncommunicable diseases are preventable. Individual and government action can save lives and livelihoods. Becoming physically active is an important step in moving for health. However, physical inactivity is not just an individual lifestyle choice. The lack of access to safe open spaces, sports facilities and school playgrounds can make moving difficult, if not sometimes impossible. Moreover, people's behaviour is influenced by insufficient knowledge about physical activity and its benefits. Government policies and programmes can have a great impact on people's ability to influence their own health. To promote physical activity, a community should prioritise and develop parks and open spaces, clean air and water, safe and attractive streets and a vibrant public life. This requires the commitment, action and cooperation of health sector as well as other sectors: transport, environment, urban planning and law enforcement. Many cities and towns have demonstrated that more opportunities to move for health can be created. Riverside avenues in Paris, France, are closed to cars during the summer for walkers, skaters, and bikers. In Bogota, Colombia, a city ordinance allows for the city's main avenue to be closed to automobile traffic every Sunday. The local Red Cross organises free bicycles loaned to the public throughout the summer in Geneva, Switzerland.

Q: What is the Government doing about physical activity (and nutrition and healthy weight)?

A: Increasing physical activity, improving nutrition and reducing obesity are top priorities for the Ministry of Health as outlined in the New Zealand Health Strategy. The Ministry of Health is currently developing a national strategy Healthy Action: Healthy Eating to integrate nutrition, physical activity and healthy weight across the health and related sectors. The Ministry of Health funds several nutrition and physical activity programmes and services around New Zealand. Sport and Recreation New Zealand is the lead government agency with responsibility for promoting physical recreation to benefit health. The main Sport and Recreation New Zealand initiatives are: Push Play, an overarching programme (brand) to promote the 30 minutes per day physical activity message to the New Zealand population. The programme has a number of elements including: Push Play national public awareness campaign encouraging people to do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day (utilising various media including television) Movement= Health, national physical activity guidelines that support the 30 minutes per day message Green Prescription Scheme, primarily targeted at sedentary individuals and or those who need to lose weight, or have some conditions that would benefit from increased physical activity (eg, diabetes, hyper tension, cardiovascular diseases). In this scheme, general practitioners and practice nurses prescribe physical activity rather than medication as part of health management. Over half of all general practitioners are now prescribing green.

He Oranga Poutama, a programme targeting Mäori and delivered by a network of 15 kaiwhakahaere (co-ordinators) who are based in regional sports trusts throughout the country. The kaiwhakahaere promote a range of physical activity programmes and events and other lifestyle programmes such as Auahi Kore (smoking cessation)in settings such as marae. Activities include team sports like touch rugby, walking and traditional cultural activities like kapa haka, taiaha and waka ama. Several other programmes, some targeting particular groups. KiwiWalks promotes a wide range of relatively easy walks taking less than one hour. For a list of these walks see KiwiSport and JuniorSport focus on young people and KiwiSeniors is specifically for older people.

Q:What are some other interesting programmes?

A:One interesting programme is the Walking School Bus -- a fun, safe and active way for children to travel to and from school. Walking School Buses provide children with regular exercise - improving their health, as well as their concentration, memory and learning.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has developed a free resource kit which provides schools with information on how to set up and run the Walking School Buses. EECA are also assisting with partnership funding for a project being piloted by North Shore City Council, called TravelWise to School. The project aims to reduce school related car journeys through a package of practical and educational measures.

The project involves working closely with the school and its pupils to come up with a customised plan to promote safe and attractive alternatives to car travel to and from school.

These measures could include walking school bus initiatives, more school cycle racks, traffic free cycle paths, lockers for books and equipment, pedestrian and cycle training and traffic free school entrances. For more information contact Rachael Dunn, Communications team, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority on 04 470 2226 or 025 342 664 or Caroline Coleman, City Services, North Shore City Council on 09 486 8400 ext 8345.

Q:What can I do?

A: Physical activity is easy, free, fun and virtually anyone can do it.

Brisk walking, biking and dancing are only some ways to be physically active. You can get moving at school, home or work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator (at least for going down!). Do simple stretching exercises while seated at your desk, standing at your post, or talking on the phone.

Walk, run or bike to places where you might have taken a car or a bus otherwise. Many of the activities you can do at home are very useful: wash the windows, paint the walls, vacuum or sweep, rake the yard or cut the grass, walk the dog. You can even do physical activity while watching television: rope skipping, stepping, riding a stationary bicycle, or sit-ups. Or just dance! Your goal is to be active for at least 30 minutes over the course of every day. Look for information and advice in your neighbourhood, community centres, hospitals or healthcare centres, gyms or sports centres.

Q: How much physical activity do I need in order to improve and maintain my health?

A: Any amount of physical activity will make you feel better. The minimum amount of physical activity required for the prevention of disease is about 30 minutes of moderate activity, every day. For those who count calories, this translates into about 150 calories per day. However, you can move for health without calculating calories.

The formula is simple: at least half an hour of moderate physical activity over the course of each day. This can mean getting off the bus two stops earlier on the way to work, for a 20 minute walk and then one stop early on the way home for another 10 minutes of walking. Ten minutes of cleaning house twice a day plus 10 minutes of cycling.

A 30 minute basketball game or a dance with your brothers, sisters, friends, or children. If you're new to physical activity, you can start with a few minutes of activity a day and gradually increase your pace, working your way up to 30 minutes. Remember that half an hour is only the minimum recommendation. The more time you spend moving for health, the more you gain. The most important thing is to move!

Q: It takes equipment, special shoes and clothes to be physically active, sometimes you even have to pay to use sports facilities, how can I afford this?

A: Physical activity can be done almost anywhere and requires no equipment! Carrying groceries, wood, books or children are good complementary physical activities, as is climbing the stairs. Walking, perhaps the most practiced and most highly recommended physical activity, is absolutely free. Most urban areas have some parks, waterfronts or other pedestrian areas that are ideal for walking, running or playing. There is no need to go to a gym, pool or other special sports facility to be physically active.

Q: I'm very busy. How can I find the time for physical activity?

A: It is important to think about how we use our time. Time is stated as the most common barrier to doing physical activity, yet the average New Zealand adult watches three hours of television per day.

At least thirty minutes of moderate physical activity every day are recommended to improve and maintain your health. This does not mean however, that you must stop what you are doing and perform some physical activity for half an hour. Most activities can be incorporated into your regular daily activities?at work, school, home or play.

Also, the activity can be accumulated over the course of the day: a ten minute brisk walk, three times a day; or twenty minutes first thing in the morning and ten minutes later in the day.

Even if you are very busy?you can still work in thirty minutes of activity into your daily routine.

Q: Children by nature have so much energy. Why should we spend time or energy teaching them about physical activity?

A: Recent studies have shown that children around the world are becoming increasing sedentary?especially in poor urban areas.

There are also indications that New Zealand are becoming less active. Time and resources devoted to physical education are being cut and computer games and television are replacing physically active pastimes. It is estimated that in many countries, both developed and developing, more than two-thirds of young people are insufficiently active.

Inadequate physical activity in children can have lifelong health consequences. Regular physical activity provides young people with important physical, mental and social health benefits. Being active has the potential to help children and young people develop coordination; build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints; control body weight and reduce fat; and develop efficient function of the heart and lungs.

Play, games and other physical activities give young people opportunities for self-expression, building self-confidence, feelings of achievement, social interaction and integration. It also helps prevent and control feelings of anxiety and depression.

Involvement in properly organised physical activity and sports can also foster the adoption of other healthy behaviour including avoidance of tobacco, alcohol and drug use and violent behaviour. Patterns of physical activity acquired during childhood and adolescence are more likely to be maintained throughout the life span, thus providing the basis for active and healthy life. On the other hand, unhealthy lifestyles?including sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and substance abuse, adopted at a young age are likely to persist into adulthood.

Q: What are some key facts and figures on inactivity?

A: Physical inactivity is a worldwide problem. More than 2 million deaths world wide are attributed to physical inactivity. Preliminary data from a World Health Organization study suggests sedentary living is one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability.

New Ministry of Health figures show that in 1996 about 82,000 adults were known to have type 2 diabetes. By 2011, this could increase to over 145,000 people. At least a third of this increase is driven by increasing numbers of overweight and obese people. Type 2 diabetes is mostly preventable, with diet and exercise playing a major role.

Physical inactivity is estimated to account for 8 percent of all deaths in New Zealand. Conservative estimates are that a 5 percent increase in physical activity could result in $25 million through direct health savings ($55 million from a 10 percent increase).

One-third of New Zealand adults are not physically active enough to benefit their health.

Only 40 percent of the adult population are regularly active (on five or more days a week).

Overall men and women appear equally physically active. New Zealand European, Mäori and Pacific adults are almost equally likely to be physically active, although inactive Mäori and those from 'other' ethnic groups are more likely to be sedentary (do no activity).

The highest levels of physical activity are among 15?24-year-olds and 65?74-year-olds. Among school-aged children and young people, physical activity levels drops significantly after age 16?17, particularly among young women.


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