AIHW news

Australia's health system saves money thanks to physical activity

Australians participating in sport and physical activity have provided a net positive impact of $321 million to Australia’s health system.

The AIHW report Economics of sport and physical activity participation and injury was developed as part of our ongoing collaboration with the Australian Sports Commission. The project aims to develop methodology and gather evidence around sports injuries and the benefits that increased physical activity offers to Australian society such as improved injury prevention.

The report investigates the benefits and costs to the health system by assessing costs due to immediate and long-term risk of injuries and the avoided health spending due to better health status.

The benefit of physical activity is calculated through the difference between the costs associated with the current levels of inactivity in Australia and the expected physical inactivity costs if the whole population was inactive.

Physical inactivity contributed to around $2.4 billion in health spending in 2018–19, making it the fourth highest spending risk factor. However, physical activity and sport prevented $1.7 billion in disease spending.

From directly associated conditions, physical activity prevented the most spending on falls ($488 million), depression ($392 million) and anxiety ($173 million).

The savings from benefits such as lower blood pressure, stronger bones and improved mental health outweigh the cost of physical activity.

Overall, sport and physical activity have a positive impact on the health system.

Posted under Health.

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