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$1.2 million budget plea to help Victorians pick up the pace
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$1.2 million budget plea to help Victorians pick up the pace

Media release: 20 October 2021

The Heart Foundation is calling for $1.2 million to tackle Victoria’s poor exercise scorecard in Melbourne’s outer growth areas and regional heart hotspots.

The heart health charity has urged the Victorian State Government for its support to expand the Heart Foundation’s Walking Program in priority areas to help save more lives and avoid hospital admissions. 

Heart Foundation Heart Maps data reveal alarming inequities exist, with higher rates of physical inactivity, coronary heart disease deaths and hospitalisations found in lower socio-economic areas across the state.

Heart Foundation’s CEO in Victoria, Kellie-Ann Jolly, said where people live should not disadvantage their heart health and investing in walking pays dividends through saving lives and cutting healthcare costs for heart disease, Victoria’s single leading cause of death.  

“We know some of the state’s heart hotspots lack enough Heart Foundation walking groups to serve the whole community. With more support, we can expand our free walking groups and recruit volunteers in priority regions like Melbourne’s North West or Shepparton to help drive down risk factors for heart disease, save more lives and keep families together,” Ms Jolly said.

“COVID-19 continues to stress-test our healthcare system so investing in prevention activities, like walking, is critical if we are to help people stay fitter for longer and out of hospital.” 

More than 4800 Victorians die and 36,000 are hospitalised each year from coronary heart disease. The healthcare benefits are enormous – studies have found that for every dollar invested in walking, it returns $13.

Ms Jolly added, “At least 30 minutes of brisk walking most days is enough to help people reduce their risks of heart disease by 30 to 40 per cent. 

“Being regularly active is a heart muscle workout that helps manage weight, reduces stress and boosts mood. As well, it helps manage clinical risks for heart disease, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.” 

Since the Heart Foundation launched its Personal Walking Plans (PWPs) in March 2021, more than 25,700 keen Victorians have used the plans to kickstart their exercise routines and stay motivated during the pandemic. 

A recent survey of PWP participants found only 20 per cent did the recommended 30 minutes of exercise on most days. After completing the program, this doubled to 48 per cent. Overall, 92 per cent of participants noticed an improvement in their health.

“Whether using our Personal Walking Plans to set fitness goals or joining a Heart Foundation walking group to find a walking buddy, we know people who are less active need extra support to stay motivated and on track. We’re pleased that 92 per cent of people who join Heart Foundation walking groups remain in the program six months later,” Ms Jolly said. 

“And an added benefit for business - people often spend locally on a quick coffee or last minute groceries when they leave their cars behind to walk neighourhoods with friends, family or pets.” 

Ms Jolly urged the State Government to boost walking investment in its next budget to build healthier, resilient communities in Victoria’s priority regions.

“Together we can tackle the heartbreaking toll of heart disease in this state by supporting more Victorians to switch off devices, step away from the telly and be active regularly.

“No matter your age or stage in life, it’s never too late to pick up the pace for healthier hearts.”

Read the Heart Foundation’s 2022-23 Victorian pre-budget submission here

Go to walking.heartfoundation.org.au to find a walking group or sign up to a free Personal Walking Plan. 

Heart Foundation Walking is supported by the Australian Government, the Queensland Government and SportAUS

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