Health and Wellness – Aiming For Best Health In 2024

Welcome to 2024 - A new year is always an opportunity to plan great things whilst having fun!

When writing the first blog for the year, I was trying to think what would be a great topic for the year, the common thread that would link everything together. Suddenly it was clear – Health and Wellness, always seen as a goal despite the topic or client group

World Health Organization (WHO) has defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (illness)” (1), stating that health does not only mean the lack of disease, but also includes many perspectives of health. Furthermore, WHO has defined wellness as “the optimal state of health of individuals and groups.”

Indeed, the two are very closely linked and it could be said that good health is our goal, and wellness is the product of a healthy lifestyle, allowing us to live the life we choose. Wellness refelects the activities and choices we make to reach our best health and well-being. It is the results of our lifestyle choices, including the control of risk factors and inclusion of beneficial factors such as nutrition, exercise and social interactions. 

The National Wellness Institute (2) summarised this nicely and stated that wellness is “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence”, basing their definition on the following:

  1. Wellness is considered a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.
  2. Wellness is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment.
  3. Wellness is positive and affirming, and contributes to living a long and healthy life.

Exercise and physical activity are well established as key factors in maintaing health and wellness for all age groups.

The key goals, modalities and intensities might vary based on the physiological ageing process and lifestyle, but the key principles remain, and are reflected in the physiogical activity guidelines:

  • For ages 5-17: 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day with strength training three days or more per week.
  • For ages 18-64: 150–300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, or 75–150 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both per week with strength training two days of more per week.
  • For ages 65 and over: 30 minutes or more of physical activity on most, preferably all days, with no specific guideline for strength training.

A report from Australian Bureau of Statistics (3) in Decemeber 2023 reported on meeting these guidelines:

  • One in twenty (5.6%) young people (aged 15-17) met the guidelines
  • One in five (22.4%) adults (aged 18–64 years) met the guidelines
  • One in three (33.4%) people aged 65 years or over met the guidelines

Fig 1 Proportion of adults aged 18-61 years by whether met physical activity guidelines and age, 2022 (ABS, 2023)

Whilst the data on the level of physical activity is low, another report from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (4) on the benefits of physocal activity showed the economical benefits of physical activity to Australian economy. From directly associated conditions, physiological activity prevented the most spending on falls, depression and anxiety.

Fig 2. Economics of sport and physical activity participation and injury

With the knowledge on the low numbers of physical activity participation, yet the large cost savings, one can only wonder what the situation would be if we met the recommended guidelines.

The knowledge is there, now is time to get into action for the best health and wellness!

In our fifties our main goal is to keep up good health and mobility, to keep up and increase muscle and bone mass and strength, to stay active and to prevent chronic diseases. One of the big issues for this age group is the high level of sitting as seen in the image from ABS.

Fig 3. Proportion of adults aged 18-64 years by type of activity at work on a typical work day in the last week and age. ABS (2023)

Already on 2012 The Lancet flagged physical inactivity as a major non-communicable disease worldwide. In the original article it was estimated that that physical inactivity causes 6% of the burden of disease from coronary heart disease, 7% of type 2 diabetes, 10% of breast cancer, and 10% of colon cancer. Inactivity was also the reason for 9% of premature mortality.

In 2017 AIHW (5) reported on the Australian figures and stated that physical inactivity was responsible for 10%–20% of disease burden for related diseases. In detail, physical inactivity was linked to seven diseases, with a large impact of burden of disease:

  • 19% for diabetes
  • 16% for bowel cancer and 16% for uterine cancer
  • 14% for dementia
  • 11% for breast cancer and 11% for coronary heart disease
  • 10% for stroke

These statistics show the consequences of inactivity, but also hopefully aid in motivating everyone to take charge and prioritise health and wellness. On our website you can find more information on some exercise principles that you can find here: huraustralia.com.au/rehabilitation

It has also been wonderful to see many 50+ gyms opening around Australia, emphasising the importance of strength training and muscle health. You can find some of these stories on our testimonials page. We are also happy to guide you to your local gym, as there are many new gyms opening all the time around Australia. We will keep telling stories from our sites, hopefully you will find one close to you!

British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) (6) published a wonderful blog on designing resistance training programs for healthy adults, based on an earlier research article in the same journal (7).

Fig 4 Best type of resistance training for adults. BJSM (2023)

As we get older the importance of muscle and bone health becomes even more important and we must set in appropriate principles to keep up health and wellness, but also to exercise to keep up our quality of life, maintain independence and avoid falls. Whilst any exercise is good, as we get older the importance of appropriate exercise prescription really is the key of treating exercise as medicine and allowing us to keep up good health.

On our Seniors Exercise -webpage we have collated information on the benefits of exercise on a few importnat topics. Many of our webinars have also discussed active ageing and the best health. You can reach our webinar materials, including all recordings here: huraustralia.com.au/webinars

Fig 5. Effects of (in)activity and resistance training on physical and cognitive function across the lifespan. Exercise, Sport, and Movement, January 2023,1(1)

Even as we reach the oldest years, exercise matters. Studies done in residential care facilities emphasize the role of strength and balance exercises in the prevention of falls, but also in mobility, independence and quality of life. A research study that changed the rehabilitation practice in Australia was the Sunbeam study (8-10) that verified the effect of strength and balance training in a trial that consisted of 221 participants from 16 residential aged care facilities, with the average participant aged 86 years.

The study found:

  • A 55% reduction in falls rate for the exercise group, with a Significant decrease in falls involving an injury 
  • Fewer fallers in the exercise group (46%) vs the usual care group (69%) with usual care group participants more likely to have multiple falls
  • The exercise group scored higher on the SPPB (Short Physical Performance Battery) than the usual care group at 12-months
  • Participants with cognitive decline / dementia also had a reduction in falls (50%), multiple falls (40%) and injurious falls (44%)
  • Those with cognitive decline also significantly improved their physical performance, including better static and dynamic balance and sit-to-stand ability
  • The cost effectiveness analysis compared the costs of falls and injurious falls to the cost of the program and found that the program can be considered cost-e ective with a potential cost saving of up to $670 per fall avoided for the intervention group 

HUR Australia wants to make Health and Wellness the theme for the year, trying to encourage everyone to make this a priority, despite age or fitness level.

Exercise matters and there is no better time to start than now!

We want to start the year by inviting you all to our first webinar, to discuss health and wellness.

We are happy to welcome Dr Tim Henwood as our guest speaker. Tim has been our speaker many times as he has a wealth of knowledge as a reseracher, clinical practioner and leader of a successful wellness program. In this webinar Tim will discuss the principles of the best exercise and discuss the successful wellness programs that have improved the health of thousands of South Australians. You can find more information about the webinar here.

You can also take a look at Tim discussing the impact of exercise on ageing in this video:


It has been an exciting start for the year. With a few openings of new gyms, and the webinar only a few weeks away, it is time to get into action and set a goal for the best health and wellness for all. These blogs give me a chance to discuss the things that matter when reaching for your health, and I look forward to sharing more stories, as well as hopefully meeting many of you in person. 

Dr Tuire Karaharju-Huisman
Physiotherapist, Accredited Exercise Physiologist (ESSAM), PhD (Biomechanics)
Research Lead, Area Account Manager (Vic, Tas, SA)

1.    World Health Organization (1946), https://www.who.int/about/accountability/governance/constitution 
2.    National Institute of Wellness (2020), https://nationalwellness.org/resources/six-dimensions-of-wellness/ 
3.    Australia Bureau of Statistics (2023), Physical activity, 2022 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)
4.    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2023), Economics of sport and physical activity participation and injury, About - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au)
5.    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2017), Impact of physical inactivity as a risk factor for chronic conditions: Australian Burden of Disease , Summary - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au)
6.    British Journal of Sport Medicine (2023), Designing resistance training programs for healthy adults - BJSM blog - social media's leading SEM voice (bmj.com)
7.    Currier BS, Mcleod JC, Banfield L, et al (2023) Journal of Sports Medicine 2023;57:1211-1220. Resistance training prescription for muscle strength and hypertrophy in healthy adults: a systematic review and Bayesian network meta-analysis | British Journal of Sports Medicine (bmj.com)
8.    Hewitt J et al. (2018) J Am Med Dir Assoc. Apr;19(4):361-369 
9.    Hewitt J et al. (2019).Clin Rehabil. Mar;33(3):524-534 
10.    Mak A et al. (2022).J Am Med Dir Assoc. May;23(5):743-749