$40m walking push to lift states poor exercise scorecard

Heart Foundation

A plan to make Queensland more walking friendly with wider footpaths, more shade and safe pedestrian crossings needs backing in the June state budget, says the Heart Foundation.
Its call for more measures to get people walking comes on the back of Australian Heart Maps figures showing the Sunshine State has seven of the nation’s 10 least physically active regions.
The heart health body warns more must be done to tackle this red flag for heart disease, and is urging Treasury to pump $40 million into the Queensland Walking Strategy to build more:
• Footpaths that are wider, accessible and connected;
• Shaded and well-lit pathways;
• Safe pedestrian crossings and
• Wayfinding signs.
Trials of temporary road closures for pedestrian-access-only events, and programs that encourage walking to school and public transport, are among other proposals to get people moving.
The Foundation is also calling for ongoing funding of walking advocacy group Queensland Walks and programs such as Heart Foundation Walking, which has 320 walking groups across the state.
Heart Foundation Active Living Manager, Sheree Hughes, says investing in walking can save lives and cut healthcare costs.
“Walking is a ‘wonder drug’. It is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions, plus it is suitable for all ages and fitness levels,” Ms Hughes said.
“Queenslanders can reduce their risk of heart disease by up to 35% and improve their mental wellbeing simply by walking briskly for at least 30 minutes a day.”
Almost 68% of Queensland adults are not active enough, making us the second most sedentary state after South Australia.
However, the Heart Foundation’s latest What Australia Wants survey indicates seven in 10 Queenslanders feel it’s important that they can be active in their local area.
“COVID-19 has shown us people want to get out and about walking in their neighbourhoods, and highlighted the need for safe, walking-friendly environments,” Ms Hughes said.
“We need to support them with programs, policies and infrastructure that will pave the way for more Queenslanders to be active, more often.”
The Queensland Government announced its walking strategy in August 2019, and funding for the first action plan to roll it out is due to end in June.
“Queensland showed real leadership as the first state to have a dedicated walking strategy. Now is the time to step up funding to ensure it is executed successfully,” Ms Hughes said.

Physical inactivity hotspots
Queensland’s least active regions, with national ranking:

  • Logan–Beaudesert (2)
  • Ipswich (3)
  • Darling Downs–Maranoa (4)
  • Wide Bay (5)
  • Central Queensland (7)
  • Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday (9)
  • Moreton Bay–North (10)
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