Future forward

As we adapt to how the world around us has changed, many Queenslanders have taken stock, and living a healthier life is now high on their list of priorities.

In fact, recent research undertaken by the State Government-funded program My health for lifefound that 50 per cent of Queenslanders became proactive, such as walking more, eating better and drinking plenty of water, once COVID-19 became apparent. The good news is that 65% say they have maintained some of those healthy behaviours as the year has progressed. However, 40% report they are more anxious as a result of the virus, and the impact it has had on families, jobs, the economy and their lifestyles in general.

So where do you start when contemplating changes to what you eat, how you move, and what you feel, particularly if you’re feeling overwhelmed? How does the average person make sense of what even constitutes a healthy lifestyle or how risk factors for chronic disease may be impacted by the way they currently live?

My health for life’s Primary Care Engagement Manager Andrea Love, says taking the first step from contemplation to action is difficult for many people and this is where the behavior modification program is well placed to assist – not just from an individual’s perspective but also as a tool for practitioners.

“My health for life is respectful of its relationships, and works in partnership with practitioners to provide patients a structured, tangible intervention that supports contemporary lifestyle medicine practices,’’ she says.
“Practitioners are that credible, trusted source and, as a result, they play an important role in supporting patients to act.
“We know people are more likely to enroll in the program if it is recommended by their health practitioner and they are also more likely to complete it.
“It’s this positive influence we wish to harness.
“We have now put in place a number of strategies to support referrals into the program and welcome the opportunity to explore how we can best work with practice in the future.’’

The My health for life program was sufficiently agile to introduce online learning options to its menu of programs, that now include in-language and workplace options, small group sessions and telephone health coaching.  Andrea said while the program experienced an initial drop-off in participation in the early days of COVID, Queenslanders are keen to re-engage, and the research has identified strong demand for a free program like My health for life.

With a format that covers topics such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, alcohol and managing stress, supported by goal setting, action planning and discussion around overcoming barriers and adjusting for change, My health for life holds broad appeal for Queenslanders across the state.

“The great thing about this program is that its quality improvement is on-going and has really matured in the four years since its launch, she said.
“As an evidence-based program we take evaluation very seriously and have the data to prove that it works.’’

Findings include:

  • 60 per cent of participants increased their vegetable consumption
  • 70 per cent reduced their waist circumference
  • 49 per cent met physical activity guidelines
  • 97 per cent maintained their behaviour change intention.

“While this year has proved to be a sobering lesson for many of us about how precious and fragile health can be, it is encouraging that so many people have looked to the situation as a catalyst for change,’’ Andrea said.

Interested in learning more about Lifestyle Medicine?