The new wonder drug

I recently heard exercise described as a wonder drug. If the health benefits of exercise could be bottled, the new drug would be worth a fortune.

And yet for many of us finding the time to exercise – particularly with the competing commitments of family and work – can be a challenge. In fact, finding the time to eat right and get regular health checks isn’t easy either.

I’ve attended two events recently that made me think about how small changes can make a difference to our health.

Yesterday, Federal Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh MP and I launched the new Healthier Work initiative. This is a joint ACT and Commonwealth funded program designed to help Canberra’s workplaces become healthier places through support and advice on implementing health and wellbeing programs.

We spend more and more of our waking hours at work, and the burden of chronic disease is continuing to grow, so it makes sense to bring health initiatives into work.

It also makes good business sense for workplaces to invest in the health and wellbeing of their employees, with research indicating that unhealthy workers have up to nine times the annual sickness absence of healthy workers.

Healthier employees are likely to be more productive, more engaged in their work, take less sick leave, and have higher energy and concentration levels.

Small changes at work – healthier snacks, exercise at lunchtime, having to walk to the printer down the corridor – can make a difference.

On Friday I signed up for the Go Red for Women Campaign Healthy Heart Challenge. I’m an ambassador for the campaign and I over the next 10 weeks I will make small changes to my lifestyle to improve my heart health.

I was asked to share my healthy heart tips at the event. Mine were that small changes can make a big difference, but that also it needn’t be impossible to find time for your health.

I recently had the range of tests 42-year-old women are expected to have, but many of us put off, because we’re used to putting others first. I made the appointment for several weeks in the future before my calendar could fill up and I just stuck to it.

After all the tests the doctor asked how I was feeling and I had to admit, I’ve never felt better.