Research released today by Royal Life Saving Society - Australia shows that every visit to a public swimming pool creates health benefits worth $26.39, meaning that the average aquatic facility creates improved health outcomes worth $2.72 million each year to Australian society.
The report, titled Economic Benefits of Australia’s Public Aquatic Facilities, outlines the economic burden of physical inactivity in Australia, which costs the health system $3.7 billion each year and leads to death and disability costing $48 billion – accounting for 5% of the overall burden of death and disability in Australia.
Data on Australians’ exercise habits shows that nearly 40% of the population is currently classified as “physically inactive” by World Health Organization standards, as they manage less than 60 minutes of vigorous exercise each week - leading to increased risk of Type II Diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Economic analysis carried out by Royal Life Saving Society – Australia shows that an additional weekly visit to a public swimming pool would be enough to lift most Australians out of the “physically inactive” category, leading to improved health outcomes, reduced health system costs and better attendance at work.
Based on the dollar value of these improved health outcomes, the report shows that an extra swimming pool visit by a randomly selected Australian is worth, on average, $26.39, meaning that Australia’s aquatic facilities produce $2.8 billion in health benefits each year, over and above their value as sources of recreation, community and aquatic education.
The report underlines the importance of providing all Australians with access to safe, high quality aquatic facilities, not just for much-needed recreation and to help them learn about water safety, but to help them remain active and healthy as well.
Dr. Paul Barnsley, the study’s author, says “we knew going in, that swimming was a great way of keeping active, but we were shocked to find out just how effective even a single weekly swimming pool visit can be in cutting the costs of physical inactivity. Now we need to make sure that everyone is in a position to take advantage of those benefits – if we don’t find the money for pools we’ll end up paying for it via the health system.”
“We want to encourage all Australians to make full use of their local public swimming pool, not only this summer, but throughout the year, and to enjoy the health benefits of swimming” says Justin Scarr, CEO Royal Life Saving Society – Australia.