What would happen if everybody took a brisk walk every day?
If everyone did an extra 15 minutes of brisk walking, five days each week, the national disease burden due to physical inactivity would be reduced by 13%, a report suggests.
Using data from 2011, the report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found that 2.6% of the total disease burden in Australia is due to physical inactivity.
And when physical inactivity is combined with overweight and obesity, the burden increases to 9% — equal with tobacco smoking.
But the impact could be significantly reduced with just small changes to levels of physical activity, say the authors.
If people were active for 30 minutes a day, the burden could be reduced by 26%, they say.
The benefit would be felt especially among those who are currently sedentary, as well as those aged 65 and over.
Physical inactivity is associated with seven diseases in this study, including diabetes (for which physical inactivity is responsible for 19% of the burden), bowel and uterine cancer (16% each) and dementia (14%).
Physical inactivity is responsible for 11% of the breast cancer and coronary heart disease burden, and 10% of the stroke burden.
Overall, the burden of physical inactivity is higher among people in lower socioeconomic groups, with people in the lowest group experiencing rates of burden at 1.7 times that of the highest group.
Earlier in 2017, the AIHW released analysis showing that as little as a 3kg reduction in body weight could significantly reduce the burden of obesity.
You can access the report here