By Dipra Ray, CEO of Springday
Wellbeing programs can help Australians further understand their health while encouraging them to make better health choices and in turn lead healthier lives. Research suggests that Australians are increasingly inactive and are participating in unhealthy activities, as ~32% of Australia’s total burden of disease can be attributed to modifiable risk factors that include smoking, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and blood cholesterol, low consumption of fruits and vegetables and obesity. With the majority of Australian men and women either overweight or obese (67%)) and 23% of children between 5-17 considered overweight or obese, more needs to be done in regard to early intervention, as this can reduce, and in some cases eliminate, the need for later, more intensive, and costly care. Although primary care plays a key role in managing chronic diseases, there is clearly scope for more emphasis on actions and evidence-based approaches that prevent diseases, or to slow their development, including a stronger education into advice about the impacts of poor nutrition, smoking and alcohol, whilst especially targeting those groups most at risk.
Digital wellbeing programs can help people form better relationships with their health by using technology, helping them focus on understanding their habits and by helping families find the right balance within their lives. We’ve seen first-hand that bespoke wellbeing programs that encourage people to learn more about their health and wellness for their own future improvement, would be successful in stimulating better health for Australians overall.
My passion for helping the Australian community recognise a better understanding of their health is evident through initiatives such as the Capital Chicks CANberra project. This virtual ‘smart health community’ initiative that we launched 10 months ago, alongside Diabetes NSW & ACT, continues to work towards improving women’s health and wellbeing in the ACT by bringing together women in Canberra to turn the health of their state around. The main driver of the campaign was to reduce gestational diabetes in ACT, as the state has the highest rate in the country, by providing anytime, anywhere access to healthy lifestyle information, tools, and a community. However, the success of the project resulted in women joining the initiative who did not have pregnancy on their radar, but rather to find information about health that was specific to them and to connect with local women and services to manage their health more effectively. 71% of the women surveyed also said they are making a healthy lifestyle change as a result of using Capital Chicks CANberra, proving that programs of this nature are incredibly paramount in educating our community about the simple switches they can make to lead a healthier lifestyle by prioritising their future wellbeing, and to avoid preventable diseases that poor nutrition can lead to, such as gestational diabetes and obesity.
Digital wellbeing programs can also take a similar approach to the likes of fitness apps. The rise in mobile technology has revolutionised how we monitor our health and stay active, with the growth of wearable technology gaining further momentum. There are well over 97,000 wellness apps available on app stores currently, highlighting the change in mentality to prioritise our health. Wellness apps incorporate a sense of an “anytime, anywhere” approach, which allows and encourages individuals to access health resources at any time, rather than having to rely on making appointments to see nutritionists, dietitians, or GPs. Because of the convenience, 93% of doctors believe that health-related apps actually have the potential to enhance your overall health, mostly due their motivational online communities, virtual challenges and push notifications, encouraging users to continue being active.
Through a survey conducted to analyse the efficacy of Capital Chicks CANberra, we found women have the tendency to put the importance of others’ health, often looking after their family’s health primarily before their own and are increasingly learning it is essential to stay on top of their health to enable them to care for their families, whilst simultaneously caring for themselves. Women have the largest influence on their family’s health, as 78% of women consider themselves to be the primary healthcare decision maker in the household. Because of this, they are often key decision makers and influencers in their families, as well as in their communities, in regard to topics such as nutrition, smoking and vaccines.
By developing digital wellbeing programs for women, similar to Capital Chicks CANberra, you have the opportunity to prioritise a much larger demographic of Australians. Small changes made by women can have similarly drastic changes to their families as most women do the grocery shopping for their families as well as organising their children’s schedules, suggesting that if we continue to encourage women to participate in digital wellness programs, we will see significant changes in the overall wellbeing of all Australians.
Springday is a people first digital wellbeing provider, helping empower organisations to understand and motivate their people to be happier and healthier by providing the technological platform, content and strategy. Springday delivers engagement solutions that create a sustainable, thriving workforce and a visible culture of care.