6 April 2018

Healthy eating and physical activity: what works?

| Emma Davidson
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Help to identify why some women have difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

We all know that we should eat healthy and be physically active. But knowing that we should eat five serves of veg and two fruit plus do two and a half hours of moderate intensity exercise doesn’t mean it’s easy to actually do those things. And seeing ads about how we should all do the right thing can sometimes lead to lots of negative feelings about healthy behaviours, rather than actually helping us achieve our goals.

Women’s Centre for Health Matters want to better understand why women in the ACT find it hard to eat healthy and participate in physical activity, and what would help them do the things they want to do to take care of their health. This research will inform health promotion campaigns in future, so the health messages we see in the media are more helpful in creating healthy habits.

Women already know what they should be doing: eating healthy and being active. But something we often hear them say is, “but how am I supposed to do that?”

The things that stop women from achieving their healthy eating or physical activity goals may be related to their life stage, such as having to juggle a busy uni schedule or provide for the needs of other family members. It may be that there aren’t enough affordable physical activity options in their area, or that there are other things making it hard to participate in low-cost physical activities. Transport may be an issue for women who live a long way from a supermarket if their local shops don’t sell fresh fruit and veggies, or they may find that long work hours mean processed foods are easier than cooking with fresh ingredients.

The best way to find out why women do what they do, and what would make healthier choices easier, is to ask them.

Women’s Centre for Health Matters will ask women in focus groups and interviews what makes it harder, or easier, for them to eat healthy and participate in physical activity, and how they feel about the health messages they see in the media.

To register interest in participating, Women’s Centre is asking women aged between 18-64 years to fill out a short survey about their life stage, age, and preferences, so that participants can be put into a suitable focus group. Women’s responses in the survey and focus group will be confidential, and will only be used in the research without any identifying information attached.

The survey will close in April and focus groups will run during May. Stay tuned for a report on the results later in 2018.

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A good story but I would have changed the heading to “Healthy eating and physical activity. It works.”

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