International Health and Wellbeing Conference – Helsinki, Finland

This past September, two ANU medical students travelled to Helsinki, Finland for the Hintsa Performance health and wellbeing conference. Hintsa Performance is a European based leader in health and wellbeing optimisation for athletes and corporate health. The company is best known for their work in Formula 1, where they have assisted 7 of the last 8 Formula 1 World Champions. They apply the same health and wellbeing principles to all their clients, whether they be a top athlete, a businessman or a regular university student.

Medicine is increasingly leaning towards a proactive model of patient care, attempting to prevent health and wellbeing conditions before they arise. This is in an attempt to improve patients’ lives and also reduce the ballooning healthcare costs. So, what better way to learn how to effectively implement such an approach to solving these issues than by learning from one of Europe’s leaders in the field?

The key idea of the Hintsa conference was to first understand the “core” of who we are, and then build a strong foundation of health and wellbeing to give us the energy to live our lives.

The “core” was the central focus of the philosophy. It encompasses clarifying who we are, what we stand for, and how we want to live our lives. Hintsa clients are challenged to answer the following questions:
· Who am I?
· What do I want?
· Am I in control?
In asking ourselves these questions we are able to determine our identity, purpose and the control necessary to motivate ourselves toward our goals.

Following this, the conference focused on discussing the different elements of health and wellbeing. There were world wide experts presenting the latest scientific research on six elements:
· Physical activity
· Sleep and recovery
· Nutrition
· Biomechanics
· General health
· Mental energy

The key messages across the presentations were for people to have balance across all the elements. Not to be perfect just with your training or your diet, but to ensure, for example, you get good daily movement, have good eating principles, create a good sleeping environment and address any health problems early and completely.

The mental energy presentations were particularly interesting. They broke down our lives into three areas: our work environment, our social environment, and ourselves. The message was to optimise, in each area, what gives us energy, and to minimise what takes our energy. It was a very simple approach to analyse our lives.

In summary, the Hintsa Performance conference was not so much about new quick fixes for a healthy life, it was more about bringing together and integrating many of the health messages that we have heard and that have scientific validity. The message was to simplify, but most importantly have balance of the different elements of our health and wellbeing.

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