UN­FIT US

Great Southern Herald - - Front Page - An­gela Pow­nall and John Dob­son

Katan­ning and sur­round­ing re­gions rate as the most un­fit in WA, ac­cord­ing to a na­tional health study which fo­cused on the hours of ex­er­cise each day.

Parts of the Great South­ern have been re­vealed as the least fit in WA, a study has re­vealed.

Ko­jonup and Gnowangerup topped the scale on the Aus­tralia’s Health Tracker, which records the num­ber of hours of ex­er­cise com­mu­ni­ties com­plete each week.

The Ko­jonup-Gnow­nagerup re­gion recorded 79 per cent of peo­ple in the towns did no or lit­tle ex­er­cise in the sur­vey week, the high­est in­ac­tiv­ity rate in WA.

Katan­ning fared only slightly bet­ter (73.5 per cent) while Al­bany (65.8) and Nar­ro­gin (66.2) fell un­der the re­gional WA av­er­age of 66.9 per cent.

A di­vide be­tween city and coun­try emerged in the sur­vey re­sults.

In WA over­all, 62.8 per cent of peo­ple re­ported hav­ing done no or lit­tle ex­er­cise dur­ing the past week, com­par­ing favourably with 66.3 per cent na­tion­wide.

Pro­fes­sor Rose­mary Calder, direc­tor of the Aus­tralian Health Pol­icy Col­lab­o­ra­tion, which has de­vel­oped the data, said it was “stark” in show­ing how our en­vi­ron­ment in­flu­enced health and well­be­ing, par­tic­u­larly when it came to phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

“This isn’t about in­di­vid­ual choice,” she said.

“Your en­vi­ron­ment ei­ther en­ables your choices or in­hibits your choices.”

The re­searchers an­a­lysed data from the lat­est Na­tional Health Sur­vey, in­clud­ing 2450 peo­ple from WA.

They used na­tional stan­dard guide­lines that mod­er­ate ex­er­cise is deemed to be three hours of walk­ing for ex­er­cise a week.

The fig­ure fell to 61.9 per cent in Perth but in­creased to 66.9 per cent in the rest of WA.

Pro­fes­sor Calder said even in ar­eas with the high­est phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, such as Cottes­loe, only half of peo­ple were do­ing the rec­om­mended amount of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

“When half of Aus­tralia with re­sources is not phys­i­cally ac­tive suf­fi­ciently for health, and has chil­dren in its com­mu­nity who are over­weight or obese, for a coun­try like ours, that’s a na­tional dis­grace,” she said.

Sub­urbs with high phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity lev­els tended to be leafy ar­eas with com­mu­nity re­sources that made the en­vi­ron­ment more at­trac­tive for ac­tiv­ity, while ar­eas with lower rates had fewer re­sources, she said.

The AHPC is call­ing for a na­tional strat­egy to get chil­dren to walk or ride to school, rather than be­ing driven.

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