Taking an active role in your health

Everyone knows the importance of healthy eating and regular physical exercise - but not everyone can make the leap from knowing what to do and actually doing it.

That may be why many Australians still struggle with obesity and weight issues. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) states that three in five Australian adults are overweight or obese, and one in four children. In addition to this, high body mass was found to be responsible for 7.2 per cent of the total deaths in Australia in 2003, with almost 65 per cent of these caused by ischaemic heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. This is despite the fact that Australia has the third highest life expectancy rate for women (84 years) and the fourth highest for men (79).

Your health and wellbeing are invaluable, so it's important to take note of the type of diet you're following and the amount of exercise you're getting each day.

The Australian Government's Department of Health recommends adults put together at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days (and preferably every day for greater health benefits).
Exercising regularly can help to prevent heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Being physically active can also have a positive effect on your mind as well as your body, helping to boost your mood and lift your spirits.

If you have trouble making the time to exercise and get active, here are a few health tips that can help.

Looking after your health

Nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. You are what you eat, after all, so putting the best food you can into your body ensures you have the energy and fuel you need to get physically active. Eating a varied diet rich in nutrients can ensure you get the right amount of protein, vitamins, antioxidants and more into your body.

However, no matter how much you plan ahead or prepare, injuries and illnesses can still happen to the best of us. That's where health insurance can come in handy to ensure you're covered if the unexpected should occur and you need hospital treatment or even surgery. It can help you avoid long waiting periods and theatre costs, and give you the flexibility to have the doctor of your choice and accommodation in a private hospital.

There are different levels of cover available, from hospital-only to policies that include cover for extras such as dental and physiotherapist services. Alternatively, there are also combined cover plans available which can include both areas.

You can also compare health insurance providers online, where you can find more information about the different products and what's on offer.

Finding the time for fitness

The main thing with physical activity is to get creative about what it is and where you can fit it into your day. If 30 minutes is too daunting, you can break it down into smaller chunks. Everything can be an opportunity to get active, from taking the stairs at work to making time for a brisk walk or jog in the mornings - even mowing your lawn can get you moving.

Staying active into your older years

The Department of Health recommends that older Australians (65 years and older, or 55 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders) also follow the 30 minutes a day guideline. Older people are encouraged to get active in different ways, with activities designed to improve strength, fitness, balance and flexibility added into their lifestyle.

The social aspect can become incredibly important during this time, so join a group, find a like-minded friend or family member and make your exercise fun.

These articles are provided as reference material to allow more informed decision making, but are not intended as being a complete source of information on any topic. All readers should make their own independent analysis on the topic to make sure they have considered the aspects that are important to them.