NSW Health is encouraging women to get active at the start of Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week (5-9 September 2016), as recent statistics show men engage far more in regular exercise than women.
According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Wednesday, 31 August, females aged 15 years and over are more likely than men to be sedentary or engaging in low levels of exercise (68.7 per cent of females vs. 61.2 per cent of males).
Professor Katherine Samaras, Senior Staff Specialist at the Department of Endocrinology, St Vincent’s Hospital, said this year’s Women’s Health Week is an opportunity to encourage women to start making small positive changes to their lifestyle.
“For Women’s Health Week 2016 we are encouraging women to consider ‘How can I make healthy normal?’, because healthy eating and active living behaviours will lead to a healthier life now and in the future,” Professor Samaras said.
“Obesity has become a major health burden for Australians, affecting over 50 per cent of adults in NSW and leading to chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.”
Obesity in both men and women has continued to rise over the past 20 years, with more than a quarter of Australian women (28.5 per cent) now considered obese. In particular, women aged 35 to 44 years had the largest increase in obesity rates from 1995 to 2015 (from 16.7 per cent to 30.7 per cent).
Professor Samaras said women in this age group are often juggling multiple commitments such as raising a family while working, leaving little to no time for exercise and opting for easy food options that are not always healthy.
“It is easy to let physical activity slide from your list of priorities when life gets busy, but evidence shows that for overweight people every kilogram of excess weight lost brings long-term health benefits, such as a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes,” Professor Samaras said.
“Taking small steps can make a big difference to your health over time – get off the bus or train a stop earlier and walk part of the way to work; choose smaller portions; make water your main drink; and choose fruit as a handy snack.
“When you exercise regularly not only will you feel healthier, you will have improved cardiovascular fitness and mental health, and a longer life expectancy,” Professor Samaras said.
NSW Health offers the Get Healthy Service (1300 806 258), which provides free and confidential telephone health coaching for people aged over 16 years. For more information, visit www.gethealthynsw.com.au