26 February 2015
Lack of exercise causes
12.7 percent of all deaths in New Zealand
A lack of physical exercise is one of
the most significant causes of death in New Zealand, and a national
action plan is needed to increase Kiwis' everyday levels of
The New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine says physical
activity should be designed back into Kiwis' everyday lives through
changes to transport policy, urban and building design, and through
measures as simple as employers installing standing desks and
having walking meetings.
"Nearly half (48%) of New Zealand adults do not meet recommended
daily physical activity levels and this creates huge societal costs
and leads to avoidable, premature death," says College president,
Dr Caroline McElnay.
A lack of adequate physical activity causes 7.9 percent of heart
disease in New Zealand, 9.8 percent of Type 2 diabetes, 13.1
percent of breast cancer and 14.1 percent of colon cancer.
Overall, it is thought that a lack of physical activity causes
12.7 percent of all deaths in New Zealand.
The College is calling for more resourcing for cycle ways and
pedestrian areas, including greater provision of green space, in
It wants all commercial buildings to have shower facilities and
says the use of stairs should be promoted over the use of
lifts. Secure storage should be provided for workers who
commute by bike.
Employers are being encouraged to develop an organisational
physical activity policy, install stand-up desks, have walking
meetings and provide subsidised gym memberships.
"Over recent decades we have successfully engineered physical
activity out of everyday life," Dr McElnay said.
"Work is now largely sedentary, transport is largely sedentary,
free time is scarce and hence active time is low.
"In order to live longer, we must address the way we live and
structure everyday physical activity back into our lives."
For a copy of the College's Physical Activity and Health Policy