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Urgent need for regional Queenslanders to increase physical activity to improve heart health

Published:06 May 2021

Professor Corneel Vandelanotte leads the Physical Activity Research Group at CQUniversity.

A leading physical activity researcher at CQUniversity Australia is encouraging regional Queenslanders to increase physical activity levels to improve heart health.

Professor Corneel Vandelanotte who leads the Physical Activity Research Group at CQUniversity explained that recent data from the Heart Foundation* shows that Queensland, especially regional Queensland, tops the nation when it comes to poor heart health and that physical activity is one way to help overcome the risk of heart disease.

“The data released by the Heart Foundation shows that Queensland regions dominate Australia’s top ten least physically active locations.

“In addition, other risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and smoking are also among the highest in regional Queensland compared to the rest of the nation.”

“This week is Heart Week and I strongly encourage people, especially regional Queenslanders, to think seriously about their heart health and the ways that they can reduce their risk of heart disease,” said Professor Vandelanotte.

“Having a heart disease has a severe negative impact on quality of life, both mental and physical. It’s not fun having to manage a chronic disease, not to mention the associated cost and inconvenience.”

Professor Vandelanotte said that there are many basic steps that can be taken to improve heart health outcomes including increasing daily physical activity, eating a healthier diet, quitting smoking and reducing stress.

“Increased physical activity is one of the most effective ways to improve our overall health and wellbeing and reduce our risk of heart disease.

“Many people think that this means long hours in the gym or intense cardio sessions, but this isn’t the case.

“Increasing physical activity can be as simple as increasing the number of steps we walk each day; it doesn’t have to be strenuous or time consuming.

“I always tell people that any type of physical activity is good for you. It doesn’t matter what you do, just find something you enjoy doing and then keep doing it long-term.

“Increasing your activity is also shown to help reduce stress levels and help you get better sleep,” he said.

Some simple ways that physical activity can be improved include:

  • Keep track of how active you are (using a pedometer or activity tracker)
  • Set encouraging but realistic goals for increasing your activity levels
  • Find friends or family to be active together
  • Start small, build gradually in volume and intensity
  • Do an activity you really like, so you will never stop doing it
  • Use freely available programs to help you be active, such as the 10,000 Steps program www.10000steps.org.au
  • Remember, anything is better than nothing! You can do this!

Professor Vandelanotte is also the lead researcher behind the long running 10,000 Steps program and a member of the Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network (QCVRN) Steering Committee.

CQUniversity is one of the main funders of the QCVRN. Coinciding with Heart Week, the QCVRN has released a video demonstrating the benefits of research on cardiovascular disease, that can be viewed here: