Physical activity: too important to be put off by unattended dogs

13 February 2014

More and more Australians are embracing the message that physical activity is important for good health. Nevertheless one half of all Australians do not meet the recommended health guidelines of at least 30 minutes moderate physical activity five days a week. This is a particularly important message for rural Australians because, overall, they have higher levels of mortality, disease and health risk factors than their city counterparts. Rural Australians are also more likely to be overweight or obese and to report an inactive lifestyle.

A report by Suzanne Carroll, Jim Dollman and Mark Daniel published in the February issue of the Australian Journal of Rural Health shows that the relationship between rural residence and physical activity has not been widely studied. Rural residents are, as a whole, generally older, have fewer years of completed education, and have lower incomes than their urban counterparts. These are all factors related to lower physical activity levels.

It is suggested that differences in levels of physical activity are also affected by things such as the accessibility and availability of places to be physically active, extreme weather, traffic - and fear of unattended dogs.

The study, conducted in the Riverland region of South Australia, found that 47 per cent of participants met accepted targets for physical activity, while 31 per cent did some activity but did not meet accepted targets and a further 22 per cent were inactive.

The researchers point out that this high proportion of respondents not meeting physical activity guidelines for health suggests an urgent need to design and implement physical activity interventions in the Riverland community.

Their study also concludes that men can benefit from strategies that enhance social connectedness and encourage participation in physical activity outside of work. For women, programs aimed to develop a regular physical activity routine and improve self-efficacy can be beneficial.

The Australian Journal of Rural Health (AJRH) is one of the world’s very few peer reviewed multidisciplinary journals about rural and remote health. It is owned by the National Rural Health Alliance.

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