Today the world is celebrating International Move for Health Day, in support of living an active and healthy lifestyle.
Created in 2002 by the World Health Organization (WHO), Move for Health Day is now firmly on the global calendar and encourages everyone to be mindful of physical activity and the benefits of healthy, active living. More than 150 countries where the WHO has a presence, will be taking part. Momentum Health is taking up the call to action and is encouraging everyone to make their move.
According to Dr Albert Viljoen from online medical and health portal, Hello Doctor, lifestyle related diseases are all diseases that can be influenced, controlled and improved (sometimes even cured) by making lifestyle changes. These include obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
Despite the alarming increase in these diseases, the good news is that it can be prevented by making the necessary lifestyle changes: following a healthy diet, reducing stressors, getting enough sleep, doing exercise and getting our body to its ideal weight.
Two years ago, the Heart and Stroke Foundation already estimated 6.3-million people in South Africa to have high blood pressure. “130 heart attacks and 240 strokes occur daily in South Africa”.
Dr Viljoen adds that the prevalence of overweight and obesity has also increased in children and adolescents in developing countries, from 8·1% to 12·9% in 2013 for boys and from 8·4% to 13·4% in girls.
Small increments in behaviour can make a world of difference. Taking the stairs or parking your car further from the entrance are two small examples.
The best way to find out your starting point is to have a year-on-year overview of your health. An annual health assessment is crucial in prevention and early detection. Ideally, your annual check-up should include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight, height and waist ratio measurements.
These indicators should give you an early warning awareness of the onset of any lifestyle related diseases and give you a chance to rectify or seek out medical interventions, if necessary. As a helpful annual reminder and measurable cost saving, some health scheme providers support their members by paying for these tests every year and others tests at appropriate intervals.
Another way to make your movement count in your favour, besides the obvious health benefits, is to check if your healthcare provider offers rewards or savings for your activity. The healthier you are, the more you reduce your risk for illness, so you may qualify for life insurance premium discounts, for example.
Multiply, Momentum’s wellness and rewards programme, has come up with a fresh way to reward activity. Called Active Dayz, qualifying members can count any activity towards rewards. Any activity that measures either 300 calories, 10,000 steps or one gym visit counts as an Active Day and moves members towards various cash or incentivised savings. This means you can play with your children, walk in a park, dance all night or climb Table Mountain to reap rewards. As long as your input can be verifiably measured, members are not tied to a particular gym or exercise regime – simply pick something that works for you and fits into your lifestyle.
Today (10 May), Momentum and MMI staff will be trying to see how far their steps take them on International Move for Health Day. All staff are being asked to consciously take more steps (stairs instead of lifts, park further or walk to colleagues’ desks instead of calling) and then log their steps collectively online. Employees from all over South Africa are participating, so it will be interesting to see how far we get.