Media releases

April 29, 2004

Medibank Private investing in healthy hearts1

Medibank Private, proudly supporting the National Heart Foundation of Australia's Heart Week (May 2-8, 2004), is challenging Australians to get off the couch and get active to improve the health of their heart and general wellbeing.

According to a recent Medibank Private survey of its members, fitness or specific health reasons were the main reasons they undertook physical activity. However, only 26 per cent of those surveyed considered themselves to be quite fit and 61 per cent were not happy with their current weight. Many felt the juggling act of work, play, family, friends and health, left little time to be active as often as they would like.

However, the National Heart Foundation says, regular physical activity is important to your heart's health. People who do no physical activity are almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease than those who regularly participate in moderate physical activity.

To help you achieve activity levels beneficial for a healthy heart, Medibank Private and the Heart Foundation, have produced the Healthy Eating and Activity Guide with simple tips on how to introduce regular activity and healthy eating into your lifestyle. The Guide features handy tables comparing healthy and unhealthy food options plus activity comparisons.

Medibank Private, Managing Director, George Savvides, reported that in 2003, Medibank Private paid out close to $225 million to members for cardiac-related procedures, which equals more than 13 per cent of the total benefits paid.
"Heart disease in Australia places massive economic and social pressure on the community every year."
"Our Heart Week participation is one of several key initiatives related to encouraging Australians to adopt a more physically active & healthy lifestyle. This is demonstrated through our sponsorship of the Australia Day Fun Runs this year." Mr Savvides said.

Around 10 per cent of Australian adults have three or more modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, which include: smoking, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and being overweight. To improve your heart health, the Heart Foundation recommends introducing 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity activity, such as a brisk walk on all or most days of the week. The good news is that the 30 minutes can be accumulated through smaller bouts of 10 minutes or more, if this better suits your lifestyle.

Regular physical activity can help you achieve healthier blood cholesterol and blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart attack, and can help you achieve and maintain healthy weight.
Heart Foundation (NSW Division) Executive Director, Tony Thirwell, said: "The aim of Heart Week is to encourage Australians to make small changes in their eating and physical activity habits so they can longer and healthier lives."

Mr Thirwell added: "With an Australian dying every 10 minutes from cardiovascular disease the message to Australians to incorporate regular physical activity and healthy eating into their lifestyles is more important than ever."
The Healthy Eating and Activity Guides are available in Medibank Private retail centres and from the Heart Foundation's Heartsite or
Heartline 1300 36 27 87.

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