New major study of 10,000 Aussie women reveals your health habits

By on September 1, 2017


New major study of 10,000 Aussie women reveals your health habits

New major study of 10,000 Aussie women reveals your health habits

Melissa Shedden bodyandsoul.com.au

Yep, the good and the not-so-good. So how do you rate?

Picture: iStock

A glance at your local café on a Sunday morning and you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re a nation of overpriced Lycra worshippers with a penchant for green liquid elixirs – and coffee.

In fact, reports show wellness is now a $3.72 trillion global industry, but as Healthy-ish podcast co-host Dr Andrew Rochford tells myBody+Soul, health in this country is a nature of extremes. “One extreme believes wellness is life, while the other is paying nowhere near enough attention to their wellbeing,” he says.

It’s a valid observation, but now, thanks to the release of the 2017 Jean Hailes Women’s Health Survey to coincide with Women’s Health Week, we have data to show just how healthy Australian women are. Brace yourself.

It’s the third annual survey by the national not-for-profit organisation to better understand the health information needs and behaviours of you, Australian women, explains survey director Dr Helen Brown.

“The health needs of different life stages have been highlighted in the results. For example, women over the age of 50 had different health concerns and also different ways that they would like health information delivered as compared to those aged 18-35 years,” Dr Brown explains.

In other words, you want a decade by decade approach when it comes to how you eat, sweat, and unwind.

Turns out, you need a little extra help with the unwind part. The study found approximately 40 per cent of Australian women have been professionally diagnosed with depression or anxiety, reporting being worried, easily annoyed or distracted and having trouble sleeping.

But Dr Brown reckons this is good news since we’re actually talking about mental health and proactivity managing it, though she recognises the need for “better support among women for the prevention and management of depression and anxiety, particularly in the 18-35 year old age range.”

Despite this finding, three quarters of women described their overall health as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ with most identifying as being ‘about the right weight’ or ‘slightly overweight’ – surely a valid excuse for your ever expanding activewear collection?

Picture: iStock. 40% of Australian women have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, a new study reveals.

Picture: iStock. 40% of Australian women have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, a new study reveals.Source:BodyAndSoul

Makes sense then that the top two requested health topics are nutrition and mindfulness. Yep, we want to feel good and worry less – and when it comes to health, we’re most concerned about menopause, bone health, breast and bowel health, and painful sex, which is intriguing says Dr Helen Brown, not because of what’s on the list, but what’s missing.

“I was surprised that heart disease didn’t rank since it is the number one killer of Australian women, yet the majority of women (approx. 60%) are not participating in recommended levels of physical activity (2.5 hours per week) and are finding it difficult to maintain a healthy weight – both risk factors.”

You could call it the “should” effect – we know we should be moving more, but struggle to prioritise exercise, with the main barriers to regular physical activity listed as lack of time and being too tired.

Thankfully now researchers understand our health habits, they can recommend how to improve them – and Dr Brown has this advice for turning the latest study results into action.

“The first step is recognising you need to change your habits. Then you start planning and thinking ‘what can I do’? Get your diary out and schedule health commitments if that helps. It’s key your goals are short-term and achievable. Instead of starting a diet on a Monday with grand plans to lose 30kg, consider removing the teaspoon of sugar you have in your tea, and going for a 10 minute walk around the block every lunch time,” she says.

Need more inspiration? myBody+Soul is the proud media partner of 2017 Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week and this week we’ll be bringing you expert tips for a healthier you.

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Got 60 seconds? This video will make you relaxed and happier all at once



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