Media releases

April 26, 2004

Medibank Private suggests steps to a healthy heart

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 although 62% admitted to eating healthy food whenever possible, 61 per cent were not happy with their current weight.

It appears that although many Australians are aware that physical activity is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle, several felt the juggling act of work, play, family, friends and health, left little time to be active as often as they would like - or should be.

This mentality is alarmingly dangerous considering one Australian dies every 10 minutes from cardiovascular disease and people who are physically inactive are nearly twice as likely to have cardiovascular problems than those who do moderate levels of exercise.

Results from Medibank Private's survey also revealed though that the answer to getting active, building a healthy heart, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle is right under our noses - quite literally - the key is walking.

Medibank Private members have indicated that walking is not only the most popular sport across genders and all age groups, but also the most economical. Interestingly, it was also identified that eight of the top ten most popular sports were individual sports. It appears that hefty gym fees, lack of time, or inability to commit to a team are not valid excuses for being inactive.

Medibank Private Managing Director George Savvides said, "Heart disease places massive economic and social pressure on the Australian community every year."

Mr Savvides reported that, in 2003, Medibank Private paid out close to $225 million to members for cardiac related procedures, more than a 10% increase from 2002.

Statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare state that cardiovascular disease is the most costly disease for the Australian health system.

Medibank Private, Australia's largest health fund, is concerned by such figures and is committed to increasing awareness of ways to maintain a healthy heart and lifestyle.

Mr Savvides said, "We have an alliance with the National Heart Foundation, which is one of several key initiatives related to encouraging Australians to adopt a more physically active & healthy lifestyle. This is also demonstrated through our sponsorship of the Australia Day Fun Runs this year."

"We also work closely with the National Asthma Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and depressioNet in raising awareness of, and preventive measures for, these respective diseases."

The National Heart Foundation state that around 10% of the Australian adult population have three or more modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, which include; smoking, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and being overweight. Introducing 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity activity, such as a brisk walk, to your lifestyle can significantly improve your health.

So, walk the dog, walk to the train, walk to work, walk around the block. It will all be a step towards a healthier heart.

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