Physical inactivity

In 2015, physical inactivity accounted for 2.5% of the disease burden in Australia.

These estimates reflect the amount of disease burden that could have been avoided if all people in Australia were sufficiently physically active (see Supplementary tables).

Physical inactivity was causally linked to the burden from type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer, dementia, coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as uterine and breast cancer in females.

How much burden was attributable to physical inactivity?

Physical inactivity was responsible for 19% of the disease burden due to type 2 diabetes, 17% due to bowel cancer, 16% of the uterine cancer burden, 14% of dementia burden, 12% of coronary heart disease burden, 11% of breast cancer and 10% of stroke burden.

How did burden attributable to physical inactivity vary by age and sex?

Disease burden due to physical inactivity was measured in people aged 15 and over. Burden due to physical inactivity was low in people aged 15–34 and increased with age, peaking in ages 65–84.

In males aged 45–84 years, the most burden due to physical inactivity was from coronary heart disease. Among males aged 85 and over, the most burden due to physical inactivity was from dementia.

By comparison, in females aged 35–64 years, the most burden due to physical inactivity was from breast cancer. Among females aged 65 and over, the most burden due to physical inactivity was from coronary heart disease and dementia.

Did attributable burden vary by socioeconomic group?

Disease burden attributable to physical inactivity was 1.9 times greater in the lowest (most disadvantaged) socioeconomic group compared with the highest (least disadvantaged) group.

How has disease burden due to physical inactivity changed over time?

The rate of total burden attributable to physical inactivity (from all linked diseases) decreased by 23% between 2003 and 2015 (from 5.7 DALY to 4.4 DALY per 1,000 population).