Time to weigh in

WA’s ever-increasing obesity problem is projected to burden the state health system with ever-increasing costs.

A recent report by the state Health Department predicts that unless the issue is tackled, by 2026 costs per annum will have swelled to $610 million and hospitalisations will be up by 54 percent.

The extent of Australia’s obesity problem was highlighted in
‘The burden and cost of excess body mass in Western Australian adults and children’. Infographic: Amelia Channer-Holmes.

These sobering figures come amidst the coronavirus pandemic which has restricted the ability for Australians to workout at the gym, play and train in their local sports teams and visit their health clubs and sport centres.

However, this Saturday marks an end to the hibernation, as Phase Three lifts these constraints and people are also permitted to take advantage of skateparks, playgrounds and outdoor exercise equipment.

Phase Three is part of the state government’s four part roadmap to get the Western Australian community up and moving again. Video: Amelia Channer-Holmes.

Exercise and Sports Science Australia WA chair David Beard says the disturbance to many people’s exercise habits due to COVID-19 limitations has undoubtedly increased the health risk for some, and for older adults in particular.

“The ability of West Australians to get back to their normal exercise routine is critical to reverse the decline they will have experienced in two months of forced break,” he said.

“Disrupting someone’s regular exercise also has the potential to ‘get them out of their routine’ and we know that consistency is the most critical predictor of lifelong fitness. 

“Not only will [the easing of restrictions] lead to improved physical health, but exercise is essential for optimal mental health.”

Fitness coach Bella Ndayikeze says it will be a slow process to get people back on track after the coronavirus interruption and she will be modifying the exercises she delivers as a result.

She also says it is crucial to note that the benefits of exercise are not confined to just physical results.

“It helps your decision making, your professional life, your personal life, your nutrition – all of it,” she said.

“You’re able to make better choices because your body is in the right space.”

David Beard says the social nature of exercise classes and groups is very important for many people’s mental health. Photo: Supplied.

Sport Australia says that while the coronavirus has curbed some sporting activities, it has also brought out the ingenuity in many Australians.

“It has been impressive to see how many Australians have adapted their activity during COVID-19 – running around the block, cycling on trails, creating home gyms and following online sporting drills,” they said.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook has similarly noted that more West Australians are making the most of the outdoors by taking regular walks and cycling.

LiveLighter has been promoting a “stay healthy while at home” initiative by positing free home workout videos and nutritious recipes using pantry basics.

Online workout videos have been a vital resource under the coronavirus restrictions. Video: Exercise Right.

Looking to a future beyond our COVID-19 world, WA Health Minister Roger Cook stresses the importance of taking this health problem seriously.

“Obesity not only impacts our hospitals but it also has serious flow-on impacts to our community and takes a personal toll on individuals and their loved ones,” he said.

Categories: Health

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