THE National Heart Foundation has welcomed a $1 million grant from the Sport Australia Better Ageing program to develop its new ‘Walk Wise’ initiative.
Walk Wise aims to boost physical activity rates among Australians aged 65 and over through walking, either independently or as part of a group.
The funding comes at an important time when sedentary behaviour and isolation are key risk factors in our ageing population. Health related reasons (including physical and mental health as well as disability or poor health or injury) are the main barriers for older Australians participating in sport or physical activities.
Through the building of the Better Ageing grants program, Sport Australia hopes to address these barriers by providing age and ability appropriate versions of sports and physical activity. These can help with a number of health issues that are associated with inactivity, including cardiovascular and metabolic problems, weight control and to combat chronic diseases.
The three-pronged approach to boost physical activity levels in Australians aged 65 and over through walking, will include: Advocating for walk-friendly streets and communities; Educating older Australians and professionals who work with them about the benefits of physical activity; and Increasing the reach and scope of Heart Foundation Walking to target older Australians.
The Heart Foundation’s Director of Active Living, Adjunct Professor Trevor Shilton, said physical activity could provide amazing health benefits to older Australians.
“Physical activity directly tackles the chronic diseases that are overwhelmingly the biggest issue for ageing Australians – heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and poor mental health. If it were a pill, we’d be encouraging every Australian 65 and over to take it daily,” Prof Shilton said.
“Research tells us that if the environment is conducive to physical activity; if people are made aware of the benefits and if you give them a ready-made group activity, there is a much greater chance they’ll get moving. That’s why we have designed the Walk Wise program, and why we think it will be a great success.”
To get involved, contact the Heart Foundation.