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Time for social prescribing to Heart Foundation Walking
Elizabeth A. Calleja, BAppSci(SptExSci) Hons M.Sci(ExRehab) AEP MESSA MASPA
Amanda K. Buttery, BAppSci MSc PhD MAPA
National Heart Foundation of Australia
Social prescribing is defined as ‘connecting individuals to community services for health and wellbeing’. In 2020, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Consumers Health Forum of Australia released a roundtable report on social prescribing to improve chronic disease outcomes and overall health [
]. However, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, only 15% of Australian adults are achieving the Australian physical activity and exercise guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity and two strength training sessions per week.
Australian preventive health strategies such as the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021– 2030 and the National Obesity Strategy 2022 – 2032 both outline the need for physical activity initiatives and health professional training on social prescribing to support more Australians to become active every day. One established option for health professional social prescribing is Heart Foundation Walking.
The Heart Foundation provides free access to both group and individualised walking programs. A network of engaged volunteers run over 1,100 Heart Foundation Walking groups across Australia, in all states and territories. Groups are available in regional and remote areas, they engage those with very low incomes, and most participants have one or more chronic diseases or disease risk factors [
Personal Walking Plans, a free six-week plan and digital journey, were introduced in March 2021. The initiative was designed for those who prefer to walk on their own or in their own way. Over 115,000 Australians have already signed up. Designed to reach guideline-recommended physical activity levels by week six, the tailored plans encourage progressive increases in weekly walking and include exercise videos to guide people to complete two strength-based exercise programs each week.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Consumers Health Forum of Australia
Social prescribing roundtable November 2019. 2020.