$40M walking push to lift state’s poor exercise scorecard
Wider footpaths, more shade and safe pedestrian crossings are needed to make Queensland more walking friendly, the Heart Foundation says in an early push for funding in the June State Budget.
Mackay Isaac Whitsunday is one of Queensland’s least active regions, coming in ninth in nationwide rankings.
The Australian Heart Maps figures show our region is one of seven in the Sunshine State to make the nation’s 10 least physically active regions.
Logan – Beaudesert was second, Ipswich third, Darling Downs – Maranoa fourth, Wide Bay fifth, Central Queensland seventh and Moreton Bay – North rounded out the top 10.
The heart health organisation warns more must be done to tackle this red flag for heart disease, and is urging the state government to pump $40m into the Queensland Walking Strategy.
The Heart Foundation wants the government to build more footpaths that are wider, accessible and connected; shaded and well-lit pathways; safe pedestrian crossings; and wayfinding signs.
It says 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.
Heart Foundation active living manager Sheree Hughes said investing in walking could 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 per cent and improve their mental wellbeing simply by walking briskly for at least 30 minutes a day.”
Almost 68 per cent of Queensland adults are not active enough, making us the second most sedentary state after South Australia.
But the Heart Foundation’s latest What Australia Wants survey indicates seven in 10 Queenslanders feel it is 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.