CENTRAL Victorians have been urged to walk more, as data shows the region has the third highest number of deaths from coronary heart disease in the state.
The region's rate of heart attack hospitalisations is 20 per cent higher than the Victorian average, ranking fifth out of 17 regions.
The Heart Foundation has urged central Victorians to take up more physical activity, launching free personalised walking plans to encourage activity.
Heart Foundation chief executive John Kelly urged Australians to get more active, saying about half of adults aged 18-64 were not active enough for good heart health.
Adjunct Professor Kelly said this statistic was extremely concerning, as a lack of physical activity was a key risk factor for heart disease.
He said personal walking plans would help participants to learn about the broader benefits of walking, such as unwinding, strength and flexibility, and mood improvements.
The walking plans are delivered by weekly emails and texts, designed to support and motivate participants as part of the free, six week program.
Adjunct Professor Kelly said walking was a "wonder drug", which everyone would be taking if it was a medicine.
He said walking for about 30 minutes a day could reduce people's risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, and even some cancers.
Walking could also help maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, Adjunct Professor Kelly said.
Read more: Heart disease deaths third highest in state
Central Victorians are hospitalised for coronary heart disease at a rate 23 per cent higher than the statewide average.
About 18 per cent of people in the region smoke, 23 per cent have high blood pressure, both risk factors for heart disease.
About 65 per cent of people in the region are not active enough for good health, in line with the statewide average.
A Heart Foundation survey of 7000 Australians found two-thirds said they did not meet physical activity guidelines, of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more days a week.
More information available at: walking.org.au.
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