Time to get up and active

Related: Local spots to exercise in the great outdoors this summer

Health advocates are urging Latrobe Valley residents to increase their physical activity as a new year’s resolution.

About one in four Latrobe Valley adults do not exercise enough, according to the most recent data from the 2011-12 Victorian Population Health Survey.

About 69 per cent of men and 53 per cent of women in Latrobe City are either overweight or obese – 11 per cent higher than the state average.

And staggering data from Deakin University and the Heart Foundation predicts the number of obese Australian adults will double by 2031-32.

LiveLighter and the Heart Foundation’s Victorian managers are urging people to make exercise and healthy diets a priority.

“Think about how exercise can best fit into your lifestyle so you can sustain it throughout the year,” LiveLighter Victorian campaign manager Alison Ginn said.

“If you’ve got a busy lifestyle, fitting in exercise can be down the priority list.

“We encourage people to find time or patterns that work for them.”

At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity – such as walking, cycling or swimming – combined with a healthy, balanced diet is recommended to achieve good health.

The Heart Foundation Victoria healthy living manager Roni Beauchamp said this could be as simple as walking or cycling to school or work.

“It’s not about suddenly deciding, ‘I’m going to be a marathon runner’, it’s little steps, things that make you feel good, but just slowly build up until you’re getting that 30 minutes a day,” Ms Beauchamp said.

“It’s about rethinking how many times we jump into a car to do things and whether we can go somewhere by foot or bike.”

Serious health risks, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease often arise due to obesity, which in 2011-12 cost Australia about $16 billion.

The Heart Foundation is calling for a national obesity prevention strategy and national physical activity action plan to curb Australia’s growing waistlines.

Ms Beauchamp said the obesity prevention strategy was about allowing people to make informed choices around food, while a physical activity action plan would support individuals to exercise.

“We’re asking for a range of activities to support both the motivation and the environment to get people more physically active – educating and enabling people to do it,” she said.

“You can be as motivated as you like, but if there is nowhere to walk around your town, you’d be far less motivated to do so.”

She said while she was buoyed by recent conversations with government and industry, further action needed to be taken.

In the meantime, she encouraged those in the Latrobe Valley to join a local walking group or create their own by registering on the Heart Foundation website.