Middle age woman walking for fitness

Private Health Insurance Needs To Support Exercise

Want your private health insurance to help you cover your exercise costs?

Getting and staying fit and healthy takes time, effort, and often your hard earned money. I’m clearly biased, but I believe these investments are worth it. Most private health insurance companies agree – at least in statement. Unfortunately, they agree less when it comes to putting their money where their mouths are.

Many private health insurance companies do offer exercise physiology coverage through their extras programs, which is a great first step. Frustratingly for both exercise physiologists and our clients – that is, for you – the coverage is often limited, with large gap payments and relatively low limits on what your private health might pay annually. As exercise physiologist, we are also limited in what services we can provide when you are claiming with private health. General fitness sessions are not covered under exercise physiology. Rather, your EP session should be designed to address a specific health condition(s). Given the amount of science telling us how much exercise helps keep us all healthy, preventing disease and chronic conditions, it would be nice to see some support for regular exercise in a preventative capacity.

You can do something about this! Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA), the governing body for exercise physiology and exercise science, has released a statement encouraging private health insurance customers to get involved. A petition is available, and they’ve provided a template letter for contacting your insurance company directly to support an increase in exercise physiology benefits. If you want better coverage and better support for exercise for health and fitness, head over the read the statement – petition links and letter template at at the end.

 


You’re Never Too Old…

The story: 104-year-old Ray Chavez, the oldest surviving veteran of the Pearl Harbor attack of World War II, is going to Hawaii for the 75th anniversary of the strike. He made the decision to go three years ago, and has been working with a trainer to help him physically prepare for the trip.

At 104 years old, Ray put on 20 pounds of muscle mass.

I love this story. The decision to make an effort, and then stick with it for years and attain such spectacular results is phenomenal. But the fact that he could actually make these gains isn’t!

What we think about the aging process – that our bodies will become unable to lift heavy things, or walk certain distances as our age advances – is not necessarily true. As with any age group, if you don’t continue to use the strength, flexibility, or cardiovascular endurance you have, you’ll lose these abilities to a degree. But…

you-can-do-it-poster

No matter how old you get, you can still gain at least some of the qualities back!

The body’s ability to build strength or endurance or flexibility doesn’t change as we age, though the process can differ slightly. Everyone has their own starting point, dependent on age and other characteristics (like being a couch potato or an avid outdoorsman). With advancing age, starting strength or endurance often decrease, so it’s important to recognize where you are, rather than where you think you should be or want to be. A good guideline:  whatever exercise or activity you choose should be moderately challenging, but achievable. And your starting point is just that – a starting point. Though the aging process usually means that it takes a bit longer for our bodies to respond to the exercise, they still will respond. In fact, if you stick with the “challenging but achievable” guideline, you’ll be able to continue to progress with weights or other resistance training for strength, or to stick with the treadmill or bike for a greater duration. All of it will eventually become easier. Once it does, you can find a new challenge. Heavier weight. Longer bike ride. Higher steps.

The long and short: Our bodies are designed to move, and that design doesn’t change with age. The body may not progress as fast as we’d like it to, but it will make progress!

You can read Ray’s story (and watch the inspiring video) here.