Government announces $10million to get the nation moving

ENCOURAGEMENT: News the government will invest $10million in a move to get more Australian's walking can only be a good thing. Picture: iStock Photos
ENCOURAGEMENT: News the government will invest $10million in a move to get more Australian's walking can only be a good thing. Picture: iStock Photos

I know I should take more interest in the budget, but I just can’t sit and watch it.

But there was one thing to come out of the budget that I take notice of – news that the government would be giving $10million over two years to the Heart Foundation to lead the Prime Minister’s Walk for Life Challenge.

The announcement was made last week by health minister Greg Hunt and it is expected to support up to 300,000 Australians to take up walking by 2019.

Anything that can help put people on the right path to improved health has my support. Obesity is on the rise and is leading to a range of health issues to our nation’s population which in turn is costing millions in health costs each year.

Heart Foundation National chief executive officer John Kelly said in a statement that “physical inactivity takes an immense toll on the Australian community, causing an estimated 14,000 premature deaths a year”.

He said that number was “similar to that caused by smoking”.

“Disturbingly, about half of Australian adults are not physically active enough to gain the health benefits of exercise,” Adjunct Professor Kelly said.

“This includes just under half of young people aged 25 to 34 years old. This puts them at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers and dementia in later life. 

“But even moderate exercise is like a wonder drug. Being active for as little as 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can reduce risk of death from heart attack by a third, as well as help you sleep better, feel better, improve your strength and balance, and maintain your bone density.”

Upon further investigation I found that the Prime Minister’s Walk for Life Challenge is designed to raise awareness of the benefits of physical activity and promote a national conversation on being more active.

There will be two parts, one being to encourage innovative physical activity ideas in school, university and community environments, and increasing physical activity among all Australians through a 10,000 steps a day challenge, working with the Heart Foundation.

The other part is helping GPs to support Australians to achieve a healthier lifestyle through education and training materials.

AWARENESS: Newcastle's Lenore Miller is walking 5k a day in May to inform more people about the importance of following an asthma action plan.

AWARENESS: Newcastle's Lenore Miller is walking 5k a day in May to inform more people about the importance of following an asthma action plan.

There are so many places in the Hunter region to walk. 

I will be doing my fair share of walking when I join a large contingent of people from Newcastle taking part in the Ultra Trail Australia in the Blue Mountains from Friday to Sunday.

One Newcastle lady walking with a purpose this month is Lenore Miller, who is covering 5km a day to raise awareness of asthma, the need for people to have and follow asthma management plans, as well as funds for asthma research.

Ms Miller lost her son Ryan to the condition 10 years ago.

One in nine Australians, around 2.5 million, have asthma but reportedly, only 20 per cent of people aged 15 and over and 41 per cent under 15 have a written asthma action plan.

You can find out more at: www.5kadayinmay.com.au.

Strong core for strong running

I have enlisted the help of Wickham physiotherapist Felicity Dan, of The Physio&Pilates Co (www.thephysioandpilatesco.com), for some exercise tips for runners. 

This week’s tip is “Deep abdominal contraction”, which is good for strengthening the deep abdominal muscle, known as the “core”. It also helps with breathing technique.

“Standing in your running posture, take a deep breath. As you breathe out draw the lower abdomen toward the spine (like you're trying to do up the button on a tight pair of jeans), relax with your next inhale. Stand for two minutes and contract the deep abdominal with each exhale.”

Deep abdominal contractions can increase your core strength.

Deep abdominal contractions can increase your core strength.

Upcoming fitness events

Memory Walk & Jog, May 21, Tulkaba Park in Teralba: Raising funds and awareness for dementia and offering 6.5km or 3km options. www.memorywalk.com.au.

Raffertys Coastal Run, July 8, Lake Macquarie:  An 11km, 22km or 35km trail run along the stunning coastline of Catherine Hill Bay and through the Munmorah State Conservation Area. www.raffertyscoastalrun.com.au.

City2Surf, August 13, Sydney: Australia’s iconic, and testing 14-kilometre course from the centre of the city to beautiful Bondi beach. You’ve got 12 weeks to train if you start Sunday. www.city2surf.com.au.

Renee Valentine is a writer, personal trainer and mother. r.valentine@fairfaxmedia.com.au.