LiveHealthyCanberra features Canberra based programs and services which have a focus on the prevention of chronic disease risk factors. Chronic diseases are responsible for a large portion of the disease burden in Australia, and many are highly preventable by reducing known risk factors (AIHW, 2012).
Chronic Disease Risk Factors
Risk factors for chronic disease are factors which can influence whether or not a person has an increased risk of developing a chronic disease such as such as Cardiovascular Disease, Type 2 Diabetes or Obesity, or for developing a condition such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, which are known to contribute to the development of chronic disease.
Many Australians are at risk of developing a chronic disease - some more than others
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on risk factors contributing to chronic disease (AHW, 2012) highlights just how common it is to be exposed to a chronic disease risk factor.
- Most people have at least one risk factor and more than 90% do not consume enough vegetables.
- Social disadvantage is associated with risky health behaviours.
- Nearly 60% of Australians do not undertake sufficient levels of physical activity,
- and many of us (almost 80%) usually spend 3 or more hours sitting during our leisure time.
A reduced risk of chronic disease is associated with maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, enjoying a diet that includes a high amount of fruit, vegetables and other nutrient dense foods, choosing water as a drink, choosing not to smoke and having an alcohol intake that is within the recommended guidelines.
How can Programs on the LiveHealthyCanberra directory help?
LiveHealthyCanberra is designed to help you find programs and service that might assist with reducing the risk of chronic disease. The first phase of the directory will include programs and services that connect people with programs that promote physical activity, assist to improve diet and learn about healthy eating, and provide connections to social participation opportunities.
In the future, the directory will look at including programs and services that assist people with making healthier choices around smoking, alcohol reduction and gambling problems.
Below is a short explanation of how making healthier lifestyle choices around physical activity, diet and social connectedness can improve your risk of chronic disease.
The Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults (18 - 65) encourages you to aim for 150 - 300 minutes (2.5 to 5 hours) of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. If you are starting from doing nothing - this might seem like a lot. But starting with just a little each day and building up until you are able to meet this target can help to improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce the risk of developing a chronic disease. Incorporating activities that help to build muscle strength is also important for bone health and overall wellbeing.
There are many programs and services that are able to assist with increasing the amount of physical activity you do. Finding something that you enjoy doing is often the key to maintaining regular physical activity. The LiveHealthyCanberra site has links to a wide range of programs and services ranging from links to local walking trails and groups, community based group fitness classes, local organisations that encourage active lifestyles and more.
Diet and Nutrition
There is considerable evidence to show that making healthy choices around diet and nutrition contributes to a reduced risk of chronic disease and lifestyle related conditions such as overweight and obesity. LiveHealthyCanberra can assist you to find programs and services in the ACT that can help you to improve your diet.
This includes Accredited Practicing Dietitans, Registered Nutritionists, and programs that might help you to build food and cooking skills.
There is good evidence, especially for older adults, that social isolation can be an important risk factor in the development of chronic disease. Finding ways to be active and participate in your community can help to reduce your risk of chronic disease through providing an opportunity to get out of the house, engage with other people, be more active and develop stronger community relationships. Including opportunities that exist in the community for social participation on LiveHealthyCanberra will help you to learn more about these programs and services.
AIHW 2012. Risk factors contributing to chronic disease. Cat. no. PHE 157. Canberra: AIHW.