Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

New report finds it’s never too late for older women to exercise

The Rudd Government is encouraging older women to become more physically active, with a new report released today which highlights the health benefits of exercise for women over the age of 45.

The Physical Activity and Health in Mid-Age and Older Women report, commissioned by the Office for Women, found that exercise is physically and mentally beneficial for middle-aged and older women.

The report found that between 2001 and 2004, the percentage of mid-age women doing 30 minutes of physical activity on most days rose from 45 to 54 per cent. This was primarily attributed to walking.

The benefits of physical activity can include the prevention of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, diabetes, mental health and musculoskeletal problems.

“It is great news that more women over the age of 45 are exercising for the recommended 30 minutes a day,” , Tanya Plibersek, said.

The report surveyed over 26,000 mid-age and older women from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Heath and showed physical activity can reduce healthcare costs for women.

For mid-age women mean costs were 26.3 per cent higher for those who were sedentary than in moderately active women. For older women mean costs were 23.5 per cent higher for sedentary women.

“The report shows that women can benefit from exercise, even if they have been inactive for a long time,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Exercise can reduce the incidence of a range of medical conditions and being active can also lower an individual’s health care costs. The simple message for older women is that it’s never too late to begin exercising and the health benefits can be significant.”

“While it can be difficult for women to find the time and motivation for physical activity in our busy daily lives, this report highlights that women do not need to drastically increase high-intensity exercise to gain the benefits of physical activity.”

The Rudd Government believes that prevention has to be a key focus of the nation’s health system. By keeping people well and out of hospital, we benefit individuals, and take pressure off our strained hospital system.

The Rudd Government has:

  • – established the first Preventative Health Taskforce, to focus on obesity, tobacco and alcohol;
  • – commenced a review of the Medicare schedule, to see what can be done to encourage prevention;
  • – committed $275 million to rolling out 31 GP Super Clinics nationwide.

The report is available online at the FaHCSIA Office of Women website.