Victoria University researchers are teaming up with Fitness Australia to improve participation in structured exercise.
The Fitness Industry Research Program will involve several studies into the effectiveness of structured exercise programs delivered by fitness services and inform new strategies to increase participation.
The program aims to address the fact that nearly 60 per cent of adult Australians are not undertaking sufficient physical activity for health benefits, while more than 60 per cent of adults are an unhealthy weight.
One study to be led by Victoria University behavioural epidemiologist Dr Jason Bennie will examine the prevalence, trends and factors influencing people’s engagement in the Australian health and fitness industry.
Other research activities being undertaken by the university's Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living for the program will consider the demographic, environmental and health trends impacting how the fitness industry delivers services.
Dr Bennie said these studies provided an opportunity to produce research with ‘real world’ impact.
“The ISEAL-Fitness Australia research collaboration provides potential to examine the opportunity for the fitness industry to integrate into public health approaches to chronic disease prevention,” Dr Bennie said. “My colleagues at ISEAL and I are very excited about this project, and we look forward producing relevant and important public health-related research.”
Fitness Australia CEO Lauretta Stace said the program would inform their mission to deliver safe and effective structured exercise programs to all Australians, regardless of their fitness level.
“With an ageing population and the rise of chronic conditions, the fitness industry is an integral part of the health system because we can deliver structured programs to help improve the populations’ health, and ultimately avoid hospital,” she said.
“But in doing this, we need to build the evidence to enable health practitioners to recommend structured exercise to their patients, and exercise professionals to be able to adopt strategies and programs that are known to be effective.”
Physical inactivity in Australia is estimated to cost the economy $13.8 billion and the majority of this cost is attributed to the loss of productivity in the workforce. Adults that participate in the fitness industry can reduce avoidable health costs by approximately $77 million a year by minimising their risk or managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.