In many ways, Australia is now a safer country than it has perhaps ever been, with workplace accidents and road injuries both consistently falling in recent years. However, while injury rates are dropping, sedentary lifestyles pose a different kind of risk.
Many members of the Australian workforce spend their nine-to-five hours at a desk, in a car or otherwise in an inactive position. Experts say that in the long term, that type of lifestyle is likely to have a negative impact.
It's also the reason why companies are looking into health and wellbeing programs to find out what they cost the organisation and what benefits can come from one as a result.
To estimate the return on investment from a corporate health plan, we look at recent insights on the benefits of promoting health and wellbeing.
1) Poor health and wellbeing linked to dementia
Behind chronic diseases, dementia is one of the most common killers in Australia, and it is suffered by a quarter of a million people in the country today, according to the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).
What's more, by 2050, that amount is set to quadruple, meaning more than a million Australians could become victims of the illness.
While there is no cure for dementia, medical experts are working tirelessly to help educate people around the issue, as well as suggesting ways that people can combat the cognitive decline caused by the illness. One of these solutions is to eat healthy and get plenty of exercise.
AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven recently explained that an active lifestyle could reduce the chances of dementia taking hold, in both old age but also throughout any other time of life.
"With dementia the second leading cause of death in Australia and a significant cost, both socially and economically, a comprehensive dementia prevention strategy is needed," she said. "Dietary and activity based interventions have been shown to offer some protection against cognitive decline, and also protect against the risk factors for many chronic diseases."
2) Living a longer life
It may not come as a surprise to hear that good health leads to longer life, but Private Healthcare Australia recently touched upon the matter, providing some advice on how people can reach this goal.
- A diet should be rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals and low in fat, salt, and sugar
- Take regular exercise to improve bone density, muscle mass and mental health
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Avoid lengthy sun exposure without sunscreen.
Sue Murray, Executive Director at The George Institute for Global Health, suggested that people start taking the issue to heart sooner rather than later.
"Research has shown that how well we age depends on the lifestyle decisions we make today," she explained.
"By taking steps now we can help prevent suffering from chronic disease and disability in our old age. We can then look forward to leading full and active lives as older members of our families and communities."
3) Improved workplace safety and productivity
On top of the benefits to the individual, employers can find some great advantages from health and wellbeing programs.
Research from Pinnacol Assurance claimed that wellness programs improved workplace safety by a huge 97 per cent. The plans were also responsible for boosting productivity of policyholders within a year of the program starting.
Finally, Pinnacol's research shows that every $1 invested can lead to around $2.03 dollars in productivity savings.
How HICA helps
HICA has a team of experts on hand to help companies find suitable health insurance plans that can provide a range of benefits to employees and the wider business.
We do this by balancing quality with cost to make sure key targets are being met, using more than 25 years of experience to advise organisations on finding the right level of cover.
To find our more, call us on 1300 44 22 01, or contact us online.