Every Australian has by now been affected by COVID-19 in some way, some dramatically.

To understand how everyday life under COVID-19 has altered our behaviours, AIA Australia (AIAA) conducted an in-depth study, the AIA Vitality COVID-19 Insights report. The report is available to all Australians and also examined whether increasing engagement with one’s health could lead to better health outcomes.

Damien Mu, CEO and Managing Director of AIA Australia and New Zealand, said: “The past few months have dramatically reset the way many of us live and this will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.”

“It’s through developing an in-depth understanding of the challenges our customers face, both socially and health-wise, that we hope to help Australians navigate this future together and live healthier, longer, better lives.”

Behavioural change during COVID-19

As Australian governments rolled out restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, many around the country had fewer opportunities to be active.

The AIA Vitality COVID-19 Insights report found fewer Australians were able to exercise in organised sport or by going to the gym, and incidental exercise such as walking to work also decreased. In April alone the number of AIA Vitality members completing 7,500 steps per day reduced by a quarter.

The report also found the number of individuals who reported feeling stressed in a number of different areas of their lives between February and April increased significantly. This included an increase of:

  • 50 per cent feeling some level of stress in their work environment
  • 77 per cent feeling stressed for their (and their family’s) safety and security
  • 94 per cent feeling some level of stress in managing their home life
  • 156 per cent feeling some level of stress in their social life.

AIA Australia’s response

An effective way of managing stress during times of uncertainty can be to focus on the factors one can control rather than those one can’t. With this in mind, and with most Australians unable to work, socialise or exercise in the ways they’ve been used to, AIAA launched several initiatives designed to encourage Australians to eat well, keep active, stay social and care for their mental health.

Members of AIA Vitality, AIA’s science-backed health and wellbeing program, can engage with many extra programs, activities and resources to earn AIA Vitality Points and improve their health from the comfort and safety of their own home. This includes more than 80 online home workouts and cooking demonstrations specially created by AIA Vitality Ambassadors Laura Henshaw, Marika Day and Chris and Bec Judd, plus guided meditation sessions by program partners endota Spa and Virgin Active.

Mentemia, the new mental wellbeing app created by All Blacks legend and mental health advocate Sir John Kirwan, is now freely available to all Australians thanks to funding provided by AIAA. Inspired by Sir John’s own struggles with mental ill-health during his rugby career, Mentemia features practical tips and exercises specially designed to help users manage their stress and anxiety during COVID-19.

To keep people engaged with their health and wellbeing from home during COVID-19, an all-new section called the ‘Wellbeing Toolkit’ was developed to sit on AIA’s Onelife website. Divided into segments dedicated to moving well, thinking well and eating well, the website features articles, recipes, workouts and practical life tips, plus AIA Ambassador and AFL legend Shane Crawford’s moving interview with another great of the game, James Hird.

Footy fans and those interested in the work being done to de-stigmatise and open up conversations around depression and mental illness can also check out Hamish McLachlan’s The Last Time I Cried, an AIA Vitality-sponsored series in which Hamish chats with former and contemporary AFL players on the difficult times in their lives.

Claims and the future under COVID-19

For many Australians, feeling supported and cared for at this time is more important than ever. AIAA has assured partners and their members that they will be there to support them in the event they need to apply for cover or make a claim.

At the beginning of the lockdown, AIAA conducted extensive IT testing to ensure staff working from the safety of their homes could continue to assess applications and claims efficiently. AIAA has extended cover for COVID-19 conditions to all of its existing health insurance customers, regardless of their cover type, and confirmed that no exclusions for COVID-19 would apply to any of its life insurance policies.

Finally, recognising the difficulties the COVID-19 lockdown had caused for some people, AIAA established new procedures to provide extra flexibility for those on longer-term claims. It also extended its tele-services for claimants and partnered with Medix, a global healthcare management company, to make rehabilitation and medical management support available for those recovering from COVID-19.

By understanding the social and health challenges members face, and responding with concrete initiatives to address them, AIAA is helping Australians adapt to the ‘new normal’ of a post-COVID-19 world.

 

Copyright © 2020 AIA Australia Limited (ABN 79 004 837 861 AFSL 230043). This is general information only, without taking into account factors like the objectives, financial situation, needs or personal circumstances of any individual and is not intended to be financial, legal, tax, medical, nutritional, health, fitness or other advice.

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