Given the fact that a substantial proportion of health insurance costs are due to lifestyle in countries like Austria and Germany, numerous projects and initiatives have been launched to bring to the population the basics of a healthy lifestyle in recent years.
At the suggestion and in cooperation with German tourism experts the Tourism Association Wipptal, Austria developed a concept for disease prevention vacations. The project is recognized and certified by the “IN FORM” initiative and is supported by most German Health Insurance Companies. It is the only offer that includes a combination of exercise AND healthy diet. It is designed for 8 to 10 days with a uniquely sustainable learning effect.
The organizers developed a range of high quality care with the help of physical exercise experts and dietitians, and also with the cooperation of communities and businesses in the area. The participating accommodation establishments, restaurants and lodges kept their menus within predefined guidelines.
Certified experts from Germany and from Wipptal, Austria, prepared the course programs for exercise and diet. The programs too had to be certified. As of November 2014, more than 120 German health insurance companies with over 50 million members recognize the Wipptaler offer for disease prevention vacations.
Course “Hiking for Health"
"Hiking for Health" is part of the initiative "Let's go - every step keeps you fit," the exercise program of the German Hiking Association, and was developed in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Osnabruck, Department of Physical Therapy. The positive effects in terms of a salutogenesis were verified in a study by the University of Wittenberg-Halle (DWV baseline study 2010).
A daily distance of three to five kilometer is to be completed depending on the condition of the participants. The routes are well defined and selected by the challenge and landscape conditions. The total duration is approximately 90 minutes.
Course "Healthy Eating"
The Wipptaler nutrition course was developed by Tyrolean dietitians. The nutrition course was based on the Rules for Healthy Eating of the German Nutrition Society and a defined catalog of criteria, like food supplements are to be omitted, anthropometric and laboratory data of the participants such as body weight or cholesterol levels are not to be collected, and so on. Also, being overweight was not the central issue, but the precautionary principle of avoiding nutrition mismanagement and also malnutrition was the point of essence.
A diet that is based on the contents of the course “Healthy Eating”, automatically acts against overweight along with the effect that physical exercise has on a healthier lifestyle. Both lean and obese people may well be in a state of nutritional mismanagement or malnutrition. That lean and obese individuals alike can benefit from the Wipptaler model is scientifically proven. Given this fact, and reinforced by professional experiences, dietitians are convinced that a person who
knows the essential connection of such a group-experience, goes home with extended implementation competencies, and has a good chance to enforce health actions in his day to day setting.
The newly acquired nutrition knowledge and the positive experiences of the hiking course complement one another. The healthy appetite is satisfied after exercise with appropriate regional foods.
The lectures consist of modules that address various aspects of the (incorrect) diet. The modules are rigorously planned and structured minute by minute. The lesson plans contain basic knowledge as well as practical help for everyday use for implementation of a healthy diet at home. On the last evening of the course a weekly menu is created where newly acquired knowledge and experience are incorporated.
Integrating Healthy Foods
"When they invited us to take over the nutrition courses in this preventive program, we knew immediately that we can stand behind it," say the dietitians. In record time organizational hurdles were overcome and the minute-by-minute structured lesson plans for nutrition modules were created. Diets advocated by non-specialists create a deep uncertainty in the population, which was also demonstrated in the initial discussions with the organizers of the project and the cooks of the participating companies. They had partially anticipated approaches such as a vegetarian diet, strict raw food, or similar “special diets” that are currently very much in vogue.
A brief overview of The Wipptaler Hiking for Health
The region includes the Wipptal with five valleys and eleven municipalities.
Participating Establishments, Inns and Lodges provide the participants with dishes that are cooked to ten rules of the German Nutrition Society and the guidelines of dietitians.
Well-defined routes meet all requirements for the health hiking.
Hiking guides accompany the participants to the principals according to the salutogenesis program.
After a person attends at least 80% of the course program a certificate of attendance for submission to the German Health Insurance is issued.
The submission of the certificate is made by the organizer; the amount of the reimbursement may cover up to 80 percent of the course fee of € 150.