Benefits of Physical Exercise

NSP members on road walk

Experts say regular exercises are the only means by which one can live a healthy life, avoid diseases

|  By Augustine Adah  |  May 6, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

MUKESH Bhatt, former president, Rotary Club of Lagos Palmgrove Estate, was diagnosed of diabetes at the age of 50 and for 27 years he has been managing the ailment without any crisis. Bhatt was able to manage diabetes successfully because of regular exercises. He said that since he was diagnosed of the disease, he had never missed early morning exercise as was advised by his doctor. “I have my track suit which I put on every morning for exercise. It has helped me to live a normal life without crisis,” Bhatt said.

Simon Ibe-Ojo, aged 43, was surprised last year when he went for medical check-up at a private clinic in Ikeja, Lagos, to discover that his blood pressure had gone up to 170/100. He was then advised to take enough rest and engage in regular exercises. With constant exercises, Ibe-Ojo has been able to bring down his blood pressure to 140//85. Bhatt and Ibe-Ojo represent several Nigerians who have succeeded in managing their diabetes and high blood pressure through regular exercises.

Babatunde Fashola
Babatunde Fashola

Regular exercise or physical activity has been proved to be a necessary key to a healthy living. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, being physically active on a regular basis improves the chances of people living longer and healthier. It keeps non- communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke and cancer at bay. In addition, it helps to prevent the insidious loss of bone known as osteoporosis, reduces the risk of falling and improves cognitive function among older adults, prevents weight gains, and improves heart-lung and muscle fitness.

In its effort to encourage Nigerians to engage in regular exercises, the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy, NSP, every year sets aside a day  to raise awareness of Nigerians on the need for regular exercises. Chris Okafor, physiotherapy, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Lagos, said that many Nigerians who had neglected regular exercise and lived sedentary life styles were at the risk of the diseases of “civilisation.’

Okafor recommended regular but moderate exercise for those who have not been doing exercise for a long time.  He advised those whose job involves sitting down regularly to consider regular exercise as a necessity to avoid the risk of contracting non-communicable diseases. He said proper consultation must be done to determine the suitable exercise for the individual. “Many people that engaged in exercise without proper counsel are at the risk of developing a more serious health problem or dying instantly,” Okafor said.

The Lagos State government is also interested in encouraging Lagosians to embark on physical exercise and avoid sedentary life style. Babatunde Fashola, governor of the state, recently stated that the decision of the government to construct major roads in the state with pedestrians walk ways was to encourage the people to take daily moderate exercise. “The government has realised the importance of physical exercise to good health, that was why road contractors were mandated to construct pedestrians’ walkways all over the town,” Fashola said.

Chris Okafor
Chris Okafor

According to a study by a team from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, United States, US, inactivity was associated with more than nine million cases of cardiovascular disease in 2001. In one of the studies conducted recently by experts to find out a strong link between television watching and obesity in America, researchers followed more than 50,000 middle-aged women for six years, surveying their diet and activity habits. They discovered that for every two hours the women spent watching television each day, they had a 23 percent higher risk of becoming obese and 14 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.

It did not matter if the women were avid exercisers: The more television they watched, the more likely they were to gain weight or develop diabetes, regardless of how much leisure-time activity and walking they did. Long hours of sitting at work also increased the risk of obesity and diabetes. Experts recommended that morning jog or brisk lunchtime walk brings many health benefits but these may not entirely make up for a day spent in front of the computer or an evening in front of the television set.

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