A new report from AIA Australia demonstrates the impact of small lifestyle changes on health and well-being, including how Australians have adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic and are experiencing lifestyle ‘silver linings’ as a result.
The insurer sees this as “…a once-in-a-generation re-orientation of priorities, especially in terms of health and well-being”.
The AIA Vitality COVID-19 Insights report, which analyses data from the 150,000 AIA Vitality members who engaged in various activities, reveals nutrition and physical activity are two health and well-being indicators that have seen positive changes since the start of 2020.
“Data shows members are eating healthier and eating behaviours are changing, with people’s happiness about their diet increasing by 20 percent from January to April. There has also been a 32 percent decline in the number of people who are eating at least one meal per week from a restaurant or takeaway,” AIA says in a statement.
It says that with gyms closing and limits on personal training posing a challenge to staying active during restrictions, the data has shown the appetite for physical activity has stayed strong – its members using tech devices to track their physical activity increased by 23 percent in April.
CEO and Managing Director of AIA Australia and New Zealand, Damien Mu, says that right now, health is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and it’s “…important for Australians to understand that small lifestyle changes can have a significant positive impact on their health and well-being”.
“In Australia, we are witnessing a once-in-a-generation re-orientation of priorities, especially in terms of health and well-being. While we know there have been a lot of challenges, it is also fantastic to see the positive impacts that are taking place …” says Mu.
“From cooking more at home, finding time to be more active and spending more quality time with our families – we want to highlight the positive small changes that people are making, and discuss the broader impacts on our community. Our goal is to inspire Australians about the power of making small healthier choices that are within their control and therefore instil a sense of not only hope but optimism as we start to move from surviving to thriving,” he adds.
The data also sheds insight on the challenges many Australians are facing in the current climate, particularly around mental well-being.
…stress related to social life or lack of social contact has increased by 156 percent in April…
It says that stress related to social life or lack of social contact has increased by 156 percent in April (the highest of all stress indicators) followed by an increase in stress related to managing the home and looking after children at 76 percent.
The company says that preventative health through advanced health screenings is another health indicator “…where Australians have faced challenges due to the current restrictions, with AIA data showing there has been a 40-50 percent drop in advanced screenings (mammograms, cervical screening tests and colon cancer tests) completed by its members in April.
Alongside the insights report, the company has also launched its inaugural AIA Vitality Well-being Index. This ranks Australia’s states and territories in six key indicators that contribute to health and wellbeing:
- Physical activity
- Risky behaviours
- Mental well-being
- Preventative health
- Chronic disease
The company says its well-being index presents a snapshot of Australia’s health and well-being at the start of 2020, “…shining a light on the lifestyle behaviours that directly influence our health”.
It notes that the index has seen the Australian Capital Territory take out the national overall well-being ranking, followed closely by Western Australia and Victoria in second and third place rankings respectively. It says the analysis also provides is a starting baseline position for how the states and territories’ health and well-being will change throughout 2020 and into 2021.
AIA says the nation’s capital outperformed the other states and territories in three of the six health and well-being indicators – including risky behaviours (smoking and alcohol consumption) where Canberra had the fewest smokers; physical activity where the ACT had the highest number of people meeting exercise guidelines; as well as mental well-being where anxiety and depression, suicide and mental health conditions were all considered.