A new study by Medibank reveals that 71% of Australians aspire to living healthy lives – but only 21% believe they will achieve this, showing a clear gap between our healthy aspirations and our expectations.
‘Medibank Health Check: Health Aspirations’ is the second in a regular series of research that examines community views of emerging health issues. This report explores the current life aspirations of Australians, how confident they are in achieving their goals, and where health fits into the aspiration equation against other priorities like those relating to career and family.We all know how important it is to live healthily – but how often do we make our health a priority over other areas of our lives? And importantly, how much control do we feel we have when it comes to achieving good health?
Australia’s health aspirations
To find out, Medibank researchers conducted a representative survey of 1,504 respondents across all Australian States and Territories, completed online over 20-22 May, 2014. The sample was proportionally spread by state, gender, age, income and household status.
Some of the key findings include:
- People aspire to good health. ‘Living in good health’ was ranked above nine other leading life aspirations, including ‘raising a caring family’, ‘owning my own home’ and ‘building a successful career’.
- ‘Living in good health’ was rated the hardest aspiration to achieve . Although 71% of Australians aspire to living in good health, only 21% are confident they will actually achieve this aspiration.
- Motivation and time are barriers to good health . The most common barriers for people to achieve good health are motivation (64%) and time (55%).
- The older you are, the more likely you are to prioritise health. People aged 25-34 are less concerned about living in good health than any other age group, with only 63% valuing it as an aspiration of high importance, compared to 85% of those aged 65 and above.
- Health aspiration and expectation increase with income and vary with location. The more people earn, the more likely they expect to live in good health. People living in metropolitan areas also have a higher expectation of achieving good health (22%) than those who live in rural areas (17%).
- Exercise is a low-priority area for spending. If given $500 to spend, exercise is the least likely thing people would invest in, with most people opting to put the money away for a rainy day or spend it on a holiday.
Barriers to better health
When we look at the results, the biggest barriers to living in good health were identified as:
1. Motivation to exercise
2. Time to exercise
A deeper look, however, shows that time with family and workplace facilities are also significant barriers to people believing or achieving good health.
Providing opportunities for family-based exercise and workplace facilities or initiatives which support healthy living are two simple actions which could help could increase the percentage of people who are confident they will live in good health.
Many Australians are committed to small everyday healthy behaviours, the survey found. The following percentages of respondents said they ‘always’ or ‘often’ do these healthy activities:
- Have a smoke free day – 77%
- Have an alcohol free day – 77%
- Fully follow doctors’ advice – 62%
- Exercise once a week – 59%
- Eat a balanced diet every day – 53%
- Find ways to maintain a good work/life balance – 51%
- Exercise more than three times a week – 43%
- Get a full night’s sleep – 43%
- Find ways to reduce stress – 48%
- Have a regular health check-up – 38 %
- Visit the doctor immediately if unwell – 33%
Of course, these results also show plenty of room for improvement across the key areas of health:eating a nutritious diet,exercising regularly and maintaining mental and personal wellbeing.
Interested in these findings? Check out Medibank Health Brief for more insights.