Sitting down is the new smoking

SITTING down too much has "become the new smoking", experts told a forum on physical activity in Canberra yesterday.

The forum aims to create a national plan to improve Australia's health.

It was told some 14,000 deaths every year were linked to physical inactivity.

Heart Foundation chief Mary Barry said that equated to some 24% of the globe's cardiovascular burden of disease.

"Just like smoking before it, (lack of) physical activity has the potential to consign too many Australians to live lives under the shadow of ill health, chronic disease and premature death," she said.

"With two out of three Australians aged 15 and over doing very little or no exercise and eight out of 10 children not doing enough physical activity, the status quo is simply not an option."

About 100 local and international health experts met with Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash, providing eight key recommendations to get Australians more active.

They included school and work programs to educate people about prolonged sitting and improving transport systems to encourage walking and riding instead of driving.

Ms Barry said she was pleased the government and Senator Nash had taken an "active lead" in backing the forum and helping produce the national plan.

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