Media releases

August 28, 2014

Australian first provides rewards for physical activity

In an Australian first, private health insurance members who engage in physical activity will be rewarded for their efforts.

Medibank is now offering flybuys points to members who link their their Fitbit Wireless Activity Tracker, providing 10 flybuys points for each day they reach 10,000 steps. This is in addition to an initiative that began in July last year, to award triple flybuys points on fresh fruit and vegetables purchased at Coles supermarkets.

Medibank's Chief Medical Officer Dr Ian Boyd said action was being taken to help support people to lead healthier lives.

"Medibank members like many Australians want to get fitter and healthier, but many think it is unattainable and want help and motivation to get them there," Dr Boyd said.

"Health is one of the biggest challenges facing society today - chronic disease is on the rise, obesity rates in Australia are climbing faster than anywhere else in the world. The cost of inactivity alone costs Australia more than $13 billion a year and it is estimated that it results in more than 16,000 deaths in Australian annually.

"While we're living longer than ever before, regular exercise and healthy eating can help to prevent up to 80 per cent of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and around one-third of cancers, but people simply aren't taking the simple steps needed to achieve good health.

"At Medibank we're all about Australians getting involved in better health but some people find it hard to get motivated and this program may be just what they need to help them take that step in the right direction."

Dr Boyd said the recent Medibank Health Check Survey found that a lack of motivation and time to exercise as the main barriers to Australians living in good health.

"It is alarming that four out of five Australians do not expect to achieve their lifetime goal of living in good health which is why it's important that we demonstrate how easy and rewarding it can be to take these steps," Dr Boyd said.

"At Medibank, we believe we have an important role to play in meeting this healthcare challenge, from prevention through to policy."

Medibank and Flybuys have partnered with Fitbit, the leader in the fast-growing connected health and fitness category, in order to deliver on the promise of rewards for health choices.

Fitbit understands there is no "one size fits all" option in fitness, as consumers have a wide range of needs and preferences. Fitbit offers a variety of products that offer the insights and encouragement to make smart choices and see how small every day changes add up to big results.

Fitbit trackers wirelessly sync to smartphones and computers and monitor daily steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, active minutes and sleep. By being informed real-time of progress, users can determine how to push themselves further to reach their overall health and fitness goals.

Fitbit General Manger ANZ SEAsia, Mr Steve Morley, said that users of the device around the world were seeing positive results.

"There are significant health benefits that come from being more active throughout the day and we know that Fitbit users take 43 per cent more steps with Fitbit products. We are excited to partner with Medibank in this fantastic initiative to encourage members to get on track with a healthy lifestyle and be rewarded for their efforts" Mr Morley said.

The Australian Heart Foundation has backed the initiative, which aligns with its own initiatives to boost the level of activity amongst Australians.

"The simple act of walking for 30 minutes a day or more can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as half. Aiming for 10,000 steps is a great way to reach the minimum 30 - 60 minutes a day of activity adults need to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. We think that initiatives, like this one from Medibank, which help to get people moving will help to have a significant impact on reducing chronic health issues such as heart disease as well as diabetes," Dr Robert Grenfell, National Director of Cardiovascular Health at the Heart Foundation said.

People of all fitness levels can walk and it can easily be incorporated into people's daily routine or exercise regime by following the Heart Foundation's tips:

- Get off the bus stop or train a stop or two before yours and walk to your destination.
- Don't drive to places that are within walking distance such as to school or the local shops.
- At work go on a walking meeting with your colleagues.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift.
- Set your alarm every hour and get up and take a walk for a few minutes - every step adds up!

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