WorkSafe NZ is calling on farmers and other rural businesses to treat health and safety as more than a compliance issue.
Farmstrong, the country's newest rural wellbeing programme, takes a positive and preventative approach to wellbeing and has been built on research as well as on farmers' personal advice and experiences.
Fieldays was an opportunity for farmers to learn more about Farmstrong, get a free heath check with medical doctor Tom Mulholland and take on a cycle challenge where farmers had to see how far they could cycle in two minutes.
A total of 376 people took up the cycle challenge at Fieldays, with 540 kilometres cycled over the four days. Challengers included: All Black Sam Cane, Olympic silver medallist Sarah Walker and Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy.
"We found farmers were competitive and enjoyed the challenge and were quite shocked at how tough cycling for two minutes was," says Farmstrong's Fit4Farming project lead Ian Handcock.
"Most acknowledged that they could be fitter and thought the challenge was a great idea - an eye-opener around their own physical wellbeing.
"Many commented that they used to get more exercise before family and work commitments increased, and said that exercise was a good time to clear the head and manage stress. The challenge certainly got people thinking about how fit they are and what they may need to do to improve their personal wellbeing," says Handcock.
Farmstrong also provided free health checks for farmers with medical doctor Tom Mulholland. Seventy people took up the opportunity to be tested with 48 men and 22 women heading through the pop-up clinic.
Among the findings,
• Two people were diagnosed with diabetes
• 14 people were at high risk of developing diabetes unless they made changes to their lifestyle
• Nine people had high blood pressure – with one showing as dangerously high
• 19 people were found to have high cholesterol levels
• Only two identified themselves as smokers
Each person through the clinic was given a copy of their results to pass on to their doctor. People were very grateful for the early warnings, and more than 95% committed to making healthier lifestyle choices such as reducing sugar, salt and fat intake and increasing exercise.
"Overall the feedback and support Farmstrong received from farmers and the agri-business sector while at Fieldays was overwhelmingly positive," says Farmstrong spokesperson Gerard Vaughan.
"We were inundated with people who wanted to know more, who wanted to pledge kilometres, who wanted to get involved, or just tell us they fully supported the positive approach we're taking.
"It's incredibly humbling to hear these comments from the very people we're trying to support, so it shows we're on the right track to achieving our overall aim of making a positive difference to the lives of farmers and growers across the country," says Vaughan.
For more information on Farmstrong or to pledge kilometres for the Fit4Farming challenge, please visit www.farmstrong.co.nz