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July 10, 2014

Health Check #2 - Australians giving up on living in good health

Australians are 'giving up' on a healthy life with around 80% don't expect to live in good health.

The vast majority of Australians aspire to live in good health above all other life aspirations, but four out of five people do not expect they will ever achieve this goal.

A community survey commissioned by Medibank, reveals that people are pessimistic about achieving good health, and a majority feel they have more control over owning their own home and raising a family than keeping healthy.

Lack of motivation to exercise and time to exercise are the main barriers to living in good health, according to the survey, with diet including smoking and drinking too much also playing a part.

National Medical Director of Medibank, Dr Ian Boyd said the quarterly Medibank Health Check survey backed new findings that preventable lifestyle-related chronic diseases are increasing across Australia.

"While we're living longer than ever before, we know that 80 per cent of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and around one-third of cancers can be prevented but people simply aren't taking the simple steps needed to achieve good health," Dr Boyd said.

Key findings of the Medibank Health Check include:

  • 71% of respondents aspire to live in good health but only 21% expect to actually achieve this goal;
  • The major barrier to living in good health is lack of motivation to exercise with 64% rating it a 'high' or 'moderately high' barrier followed by time to exercise;
  • The less people earn, the less likely they are to expect to live in good health;
  • Rural respondents are more pessimistic than other respondents with only 17% expecting to live in good health compared with 21%;
  • More West Australians aspire to (76%) and expect to (22%) live in good health than any other state or territory.
  • Gen Y is less concerned about living in good health than any other age group.

Dr Boyd said that while some of the key results in the Medibank Health Check were concerning, there were also some encouraging signs.

"The fact that 4 in 5 Australians do not expect to live in good health is alarming given that so many aspire to that life goal," Dr Boyd said.

"The key point here is that the vast majority of people want to live a healthy life, but they just don't know how. With motivation and time management and by sticking to simple health advice many people can still achieve this important life goal."

"This is why Medibank has created Generation Better and is working with other organisations and community groups like the Heart Foundation to support individuals, groups and communities to help motivate one another to start taking small steps to live a healthier lifestyle."

Dr Boyd's top 5 tips for living in good health:

  1. Walk (or run) wherever you can. Incorporate incidental exercise into your daily routine - take the stairs instead of the lift, park the car further away and walk to your destination and carry a comfortable pair of shoes with you whenever possible so there are no excuses!
  2. Incorporate fruit and vegetables into every meal. Top your cereal with fruit, have a side salad with dinner - fill up on fresh fruit and veg and you won't be as likely to turn to bad food.
  3. Make family outings active - go on bike rides together or do activities with the family that get you moving and are fun, like hiking, ice skating or swimming.
  4. See you doctor for regular health checks
  5. Set small goals but achievable goals. By focusing on more achievable diet and exercise goals you will be more likely to stick to them for 4-6 weeks which is how long it takes to form a habit. You can then realise a goal, and move on to the next one, rather than making big wholesale changes that seem impossible to fit into your lifestyle.


About the Medibank Health Check:
The independent survey asked 1,504 Australians their views about how they rated 'living in good health' on their 'bucket list'.

It also asked people to consider their likelihood of achieving their life aspirations with a particular focus on good health.

Respondents aspired to living in good health above nine other leading life aspirations relating to career, family, homeownership and retirement funding.

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